New in July: Blood donation waiting time cut for men who have sex with men

Men who have sex with men (MSM) can donate blood from 1 July after a four-month waiting period. Until a few years ago, men who have sex with men were not allowed to donate blood in Belgium, to reduce the risk of patients becoming infected with blood-borne infectious diseases such as HIV. In 2017, a 12-month waiting period after sexual activity between men was introduced. 

That waiting period will now be shortened to four months. Red Cross Flanders stresses that this waiting period has nothing to do with the orientation of those involved, but rather risk behaviour, and that more important than the right to give blood is the right of every patient to the safest possible blood.

LGBTQ+ associations maintain that the measure is discriminatory. Cavaria, the umbrella for Flemish LGBTI+ organisations, said this month that "the assumption that all MSM engage in sexually risky behaviour is stereotypical and wrong". It suggests "moving to an individual risk assessment of each donor based on their sexual risk behaviour, regardless of sexual orientation".



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