Despite calls from equality activists, the National Blood Centre said that they will not relax blood donation criteria to allow donations from the LGBTQ community, particularly gay men. The statement made yesterday said that the centre was not ready to relax criteria for high-risk groups though they empathise with the LGBTQ community’s desire to help.
It should be noted that the criteria only forbids gay men from donating, while lesbians and transgender women with no history have sex with a male partner can still apply to be donors.
Because of high instances of HIV in donations, the centre is standing firm against any change to the blood donor criteria. The statement said that specialists and experts in transfusion medicine met in an advisory group and confirmed Thailand was not ready to expand its criteria.
The centre points to data that shows that the HIV rate in gay men in Bangkok is over 30%, while HIV rates in first-time blood donors in Thailand are already significantly higher than in other parts of the world. In regular donations, 40 instances of HIV are found per 100,000, while first-time donors are as high as 130 per 100,000.
The first-time donor statistic is 14 times higher than the US, 22 times higher than Western Europe, and 10 times higher than other Asian nations such as Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. The regular donor statistic is 27 times higher than the US, 72 times higher than Western Europe, and 80 times higher than the Asian countries.
The chairman of the HIV Foundation Asia and the Bangkok Rainbow Organization had pushed her more inclusivity for marginalized groups, especially for donations while blood supplies are experiencing shortages. But the Thai Red Cross Society which operates the National Blood Center said that, while they respect the human rights of every person without discrimination, they would not lift the ban on LGBTQ people donating blood.
Official assure that the decision is not one based on discrimination against the LGBTQ community, and call on improved sex education the lower the HIV infection rate below 1 in 100,000 donors before they can safely relax the standards.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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