AIDS Concern is pleased to see the MSM lifetime blood donation ban removed but hopes for further reductions in restrictions
AIDS Concern is pleased to see that the Hospital Authority has scrapped the lifetime ban on men who have sex with men (MSM) donating blood and changed to a one year deferral period. This is a step forward. However, we hope the HA can refer to the existing blood donation policy in more countries and consider reducing the blood donation deferral limit for MSM in Hong Kong further.
In light of the evidence supporting a move from precautionary to risk management policy, some countries have now lifted the MSM blood donation ban. For example, the U.S. has changed their previous lifetime ban to a time-limited deferral policy (men who have not had sex with a man for a period of time can donate). Australia has changed its previous 5 year ban to 1 year in 2014. Results show that even though the number of blood donations increased in Australia after the change, the actual number of HIV donations among male blood donors fell. Therefore, AIDS Concern considers the new revision is in the right direction.
However, AIDS Concern suggests that there is still room for improvement for the blood donation policy. With the advancement of science and technology, testing donated blood for HIV is now sophisticated. The window period of virus infection (when virus cannot be detected) is just 6 days, which has substantially mitigated the risk of HIV transmission during the window period in blood donation.
For this reason, many countries are considering reducing blood donation limits for men who have sex with men. For example, the UK is considering lowering its deferral period to three months. We hope that the HA will continue to keep up with the international evidence and practice, and consider further steps to reduce the one-year limit for blood donation policy. AIDS Concern will continue to follow the issue and support appropriate changes in the MSM blood donation rules.
If you have any inquiries, please contact the Marketing and Communications Officer of AIDS Concern.
Tobey Tse Tel: 2864 1315 Email: Tobey.firstname.lastname@example.org