The Jerusalem Post
Health minister plans to remove all blood donation restrictions from gay men – report
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz plans on removing all blood donation restrictions that prevent gay men from giving blood, Ynet reported on Monday.
Horowitz plans on removing a form question which asks “have you engaged in sexual relations between men?”
In addition, Horowitz plans on removing the mandatory one-year minimum period that homosexual men must complete without engaging in sexual relations before they are allowed to donate.
The plan came after talks Horowitz reportedly had with health experts, and will be finalized only after further discussions with medical professionals.
While gay men usually see higher rates of infection from HIV and AIDS due to HIV’s higher transmission rates through anal sex – a statistic which initially led the ban to go into effect in the early 1980s – their rates have been dropping consistently over recent years.
This drop in cases is coupled with a drop in the disease’s severity. Due to improving medications, HIV was redefined in 2015 from being considered a fatal illness to being considered a treatable, chronic disease.
This is not the first time a question on the questionnaire for blood donations has been called into question. In 2017, Ethiopian-Israelis were first allowed to donate blood, a move initiated by former health minister Yael German.
The 2017 decision was also the first time gay men were technically allowed to donate blood at all, though the year-long celibacy period required for donation essentially left the ban mostly in effect.
Gay men currently only have the option to donate plasma cells, but their red blood cells are thrown away without being tested for diseases.