It has been revealed India’s HIV government department has put a ban on any person who is LGBTI from donating blood.
The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) fall under the government’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
Recently it was promoting National Blood Donor Day on June 14 and encouraged people around the country to donate blood.
But it has been revealed NACO has classified all LGBTI people as a ‘high-risk category’ and has banned them from donating blood.
Activist Chetan Kothari discovered the ban after filing a Right To Information (RTI) with NACO’s Blood Safety Division and the Central Public Information Officer.
‘They are categorised as High Risk Group mainly because they have multiple sexual partners and there is an high incidence of HIV,’ Dr Farah Ingale, the Senior Internal Medicine Specialist at Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi told DNA India.
‘There are tests before blood transfusion, but they are not 100 per cent accurate every time. So, it is better to avoid rather than taking risks. In India, not many are aware about their medical history.’
While many countries have banned men who have sex with men because of the perceived increased risk of HIV, it is uncommon to ban all LGBTI people.
Well-known Indian LGBTI activist Harish Iyer was not impressed.
‘The blood given to any laboratory needs to be tested. If a straight person donated blood, is it offered to a beneficiary without testing?’ he said.
‘What’s the point in declaring an entire community as High Risk? This is nothing but discrimination. Don’t the non-LGBT people engage in high risk behaviour?
‘Don’t they visit commercial sex workers? Do they not engage in drugs? The medical fraternity needs to stand up against this.’
Gay blood donations
There has been movement in countries across the world to lift the ban on MSM donating blood.
Countries like Australia, the United States and Fiji still have bans.