China’s Ministry of Health announced this month that they have lifted the ban on lesbian blood donation put in place in 1988. The lifetime ban on blood donation by gay men will stand.

Blood donations are an important component of the growing public health system in China and were thrown into the spotlight after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Xian, the director of Beijng-based lesbian organization, Tongyu, applauded the change in guidelines, telling the Global Times “It is also about our dignity and the elimination of blood donation discrimination.”

As blood screening improves, blood donation restrictions have lessened globally, with several countries instituting deferral periods in place of wholesale bans. In South Africa men are eligible to donate blood if they have not had sex with another man in past six months; In Australia, England, Scotland, Sweden, Japan, and Wales men must wait twelve months after sexual contact with another man, in New Zealand five years.

While the lifetime ban on gay male blood remains in the United States the Red Cross, American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and America’s Blood Centers
have advocated since 2006 for “deferral criteria for prospective male blood donors who have had sexual contact with another male.”

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