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Iceland may lift its ban on gay men donating blood, but with limits

Iceland may lift its ban on gay men donating blood, but with limits

Iceland

Iceland should consider lifting its ban on blood donations from gay men, a chief epidemiologist has said.

But he also qualified his statement, saying that some restrictions should still be imposed.

Chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason said that people with ‘liberal sex lives’ were more susceptible to contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

‘First of all, in this group, there is an increased chance that their blood could be carrying HIV or hepatitis C,’ the Reykjavik Grapevine reported Guðnason saying.

‘There are individuals in this group who are practicing safe sex, and are therefore not at risk, while there are others, with a more liberal sex life, who are more likely to spread these kinds of infections.’

Guðnason’s statement contradicts the findings of Iceland’s Directorate of Health.

In September, the health department said it would review the ban on accepting blood donations from gay men.

This followed studies which found that HIV levels between gay and straight men are almost the same.

The findings effectively make the original reasoning for the ban obsolete.

Point of contention

Iceland is one of the most LGBTI-friendly countries in the world and maintains numerous pro-LGBTI rights laws.

However, as with numerous other countries, the issue of blood donation has been a point of contention for years.

In 2014, an Icelandic man filed a suit against the ban, claiming it was discriminatory.

While not insisting on a complete ban, other Nordic countries require a 12-month period of abstinence from any gay or bisexual men wishing to donate blood.

The US carries similar restrictions, despite organizations such as the Red Cross suffering a shortage of blood donations.

Last year, Denmark ruled that it would, with some caveats, lift the ban on accepting blood donations from gay and bisexual men. This will come into effect sometime in 2019.

Gay men will only be able to donate blood if they have not slept with another man in four months prior to the donation. This time period will be voided if the person is in a relationship.

However, some other counties, such as the UK and Israel, have begun relaxing the restrictions, partially due to advances in blood screening methods.