South Africa has ended its ban on gay men donating blood for six months after they have last had sex which aimed to prevent HIV infected blood from entering the blood supply.
Under new rules announced by the South African National Blood Service gay men who are in monogamous committed relationships will be able to give blood alongside those who have not been sexually active for at least six month.
The new rules do not single out men who have sex with men and instead excludes ‘people whose lifestyle puts them at increased risk of contracting an infection that can be transmitted through their blood,’ rather than excluding people based on their sexual orientation.
The rules give the example of people who have had 'more than one sexual partner in the past six months or if they have had sexual contact with someone whose sexual background is unknown to them,’ as examples of factors that would lead a potential donor to be screened out.
The blood service will continue to test every litre of blood it collects for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world but most people living with HIV in the country are heterosexuals.