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Blood ban on men who have sex with men cut

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    Blood ban on men who have sex with men cut - 17-Jun-2008
    An independent review panel has recommended that the New Zealand ban on blood donations from men who have had anal or oral sex with other men should be cut from 10 to five years.

    "A change to a five-year deferral will not increase risk to blood supply," the panel of experts said in a report on the New Zealand Blood Service website.

    Between 2000 and 2006 12 blood donors were found to have HIV infections, a rate of 1.1 per 100,000 donations, or 2.5 per 100,000 for first-time donors, and 0.7 for repeat donors.

    In April 2003, HIV-positive blood donated in New Zealand was used in a pool of blood for Australian manufacture of Factor VIII products for haemophiliacs, and resulted in $4 million worth of product being destroyed.

    A five-year ban will bring New Zealand into line with South Africa.

    Australia and Japan have a deferral period of just one year while Canada, the UK, the US and France never allow men who have sex with men to donate blood,

    The expert panel which carried out the review was led by Professor Charlotte Paul of Otago University's department of social and preventive medicine, and included experts from the Aids epidemiology Group, the Aids Foundation and an ethicist.

    The panel also recommended that heterosexuals from countries such as sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia where HIV is epidemic should also be blocked from donating blood for five years after leaving that country.

    Most HIV infections in NZ among heterosexuals are among people from sub-Saharan Africa or South East Asia.

    One year bans will continue for women who have had sex with a bisexual man, people who have had sex with carriers of hepatitis B or hepatitis C, injecting drug users, and sex workers who have only worked in New Zealand.

    "People who have worked as sex workers in any other country should not give blood for five years," the panel said.

    In New Zealand, only 20 women known to be sex workers have tested positive, and only four men are reported to have been infected by a sex worker.

    The Blood Service said the independent review was commissioned after some gay men complained to the Human Rights Commission that "deferral criteria" used to identify individuals at increased risk of acquiring significant blood borne infections were discriminatory.

    The Blood Service noted the final version of the report had been assessed by a Queen's Counsel as complying with relevant legislation including the Bill of Rights.

    The Blood Service said it had to continue to take all reasonable steps to ensure that blood products were as safe as possible.

    Behavioural Donor Deferral Criteria Review Final Report
    Ref: - Stuff Website - NZ Blood Service

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