The abstinence period of one year that homosexuals must respect to donate blood will be reduced to 4 months from April 2, according to a decree published Thursday in the Official Journal.
Reducing this period of abstinence had been announced in July by the Ministry of Health, for entry into force initially scheduled for February 1, 2020.
It was finally postponed to April 2, in particular because of the time required to print the new version of the questionnaire that all applicants for the donation must fill out, explained the General Directorate of Health (DGS), which depends on the ministry. It is in this questionnaire that the criteria on sexual activity and orientation appear.
“The date for the end of stakeholder consultation on the final draft orders and pre-donation questionnaire was mid-December, which explains the publication of the order today,” according to the DGS.
“A first step”
When it was formalized in July, the Ministry of Health presented the reduction of this period of abstinence as “a first step” towards an alignment of the conditions of donation for homosexuals with those of heterosexuals, envisaged “by 2022 “.
Aim of this intermediate phase: ensure that the lifting of the specific conditions applied to homosexual donors will not increase the risk of contamination for recipients during blood transfusions.
From 1983 to 2016, men who have sex with men (MSM) could not donate blood at all, due to the risk of transmitting the AIDS virus. These conditions were relaxed in 2016 with the introduction of a one-year abstinence period. However, it had drawn criticism from homosexual associations who saw it as discriminating against them.
Each year, 1.7 million people donate blood, generating 3 million donations. And each year, on average it is necessary to recruit 170,000 new donors to have the 10,000 donations per day necessary to meet the needs of the sick. One million patients per year are treated each year with blood products. Since 2016, homosexuals can donate their plasma according to the same criteria as other donors.