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  • Victoria calls for blood donation review to end discrimination against gay men

    Author: AAP

A ban on gay men donating blood in Australia should be reviewed, the Victorian government says.

The Victorian government wants a ban on gay men donating blood reviewed on the grounds it's discriminatory.

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Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy will on Friday tell a meeting of the country's health ministers in Canberra that the "discriminatory policy" should be reviewed in 2017.

Under the existing rules men who've had sex with men in the preceding 12 months are banned from donating blood.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service says the deferral period could be safely reduced to six months but the Therapeutic Goods Administration is opposed to any change.

A review is scheduled for 2018 but Ms Hennessy wants that brought forward by 12 months.

"This policy doesn't align with what we now know about how HIV is transmitted - it's discriminatory and it's outdated," she said in a statement on Friday.

"This ban stops a particular group of people from doing something that could save lives."

Ms Hennessy wants the deferral period "reduced or removed".

The blood service says in the general population men who have sex with men accounted for 90 per cent of newly-acquired HIV cases in Australia in 2014.

While the Red Cross tests every donation it's unable to detect the early presence of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

"The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has visited this issue and agrees that the blood service is not being discriminatory with our deferral policy for men who have sex with men," the organisation states on its website.

"The blood service reviewed our policy recently and recommended to our regulator, the TGA, that men who have sex with men should be able to donate blood after a six month wait (but) unfortunately the TGA did not approve a reduction."


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