Iceland's Ban On Gay Men Giving Blood May Be Lifted Soon - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s Ban On Gay Men Giving Blood May Be Lifted Soon

Published January 3, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
ec-jpr/Creative Commons

An epidemiologist has made statements about the supposed risks of gay men donating blood that contradict the Directorate of Health’s own findings. Nonetheless, he believes it should be possible to lift Iceland’s current ban on blood donations from gay men, at least conditionally, RÚV reports.

“First of all, in this group there is an increased chance that their blood could be carrying HIV or hepatitis C,” epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason told reporters. “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.”

The contention is a surprising one, considering that last September the Directorate of Health pointed out that incidences of HIV infection in Iceland are in almost entirely equal proportions between gay and straight people; 150 to 148, respectively. As such, the original reasoning behind the ban no longer applies.

Where other Nordic countries are concerned, there is a 12-month abstinence period imposed on gay men before they may donate blood, with the exception of Denmark, at four months.

“I believe that given what other people in Europe have done, we can leave behind a total ban and move on to having an abstinence period of some months,” Þórólfur said.

As reported, Iceland’s Ministry of Health is currently reviewing its regulations regarding the prohibition against gay men from donating blood. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir specifically cited Denmark as the reason for wanting to review Iceland’s regulations. The matter will be reviewed by the Ministry, in cooperation with the Blood Bank and epidemiologists.

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