Israel: Pilot Program in Israel Will Allow Gay Men to Donate Blood

Gay and bisexual men will now be allowed to donate blood through a new procedure that will only use the bloods plasma component.

Men who have sexual relations with other men have long been considered a high-risk group when it came to blood donations because they were statistically more likely to be infected with AIDS or with HIV, the virus that causes it. For many years they have not been allowed to donate blood in Israel.

In June 2017 Israel aligned itself with many other countries in the West and updated its criteria for blood donations. Under the new policy, homosexual men could donate blood on the condition that they did not have same-sex relations in the 12 months preceding the donation. Practically speaking, however, this change made little difference since blood banks remained reluctant to trust potential donors self-reporting about their sex life.

The new procedure does not replace the old one that requires men to abstain from same-sex relations for 12 months. It was developed as an alternative that would allow gay men to donate blood without putting those who need donated blood at risk. This new track, created by Magen David Adom together with Kulanu lawmaker Merav Ben Ari, who chairs the caucus for the LGBT community, the Israel AIDS Task Force and Aguda – Israels LGBT Task Force, will begin as a two-year pilot starting in April. 

For years there was this frustrating situation where members of the LGBT community couldnt donate blood and when they did, they had to deny their sexual preference. Today is another important historic step toward equality for the gay community, said Ben Ari. This is good news for the community [at large] because it will lead to expanding the pool of blood donations and as such, will save lives.

However, Israeli blood banks, like those elsewhere, have not found practical or safe enough ways to take full blood donations from gay men without the 12-month assurance. As a result, the new option will differ from a regular blood donation and will require persistence and determination on the part of the donor. Read more via Haaretz