A law stipulating that a gay man may donate blood if he has not had sexual relations with another man for the 12 preceding months was published on Monday in Belgium’s Official Gazette, le Moniteur belge. It will enter into effect after an implementation decree is issued. That decree should hopefully be published by the end of the year, according to Health Ministry spokesperson Maggie De Block.
Previously, homosexual men had been banned for life from becoming blood donors. The justification given was that their sexual behaviour carries a greater risk of contamination by AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than heterosexuals.
The conditional autorization to donate blood also applies to sex workers or people whose partners are drug users.
The law further stipulates that certain patients suffering from hereditary hemochromatosis can give the blood drawn from them for therapeutic reasons. That blood has until now been destroyed.
The Red Cross is ready to welcome the new donors; it says all brochures and questionnaires have been adapted to the new law.