Several parties in the Danish parliament announce their support for removing the current lifetime ban male to male sex has in blood donation.
By Frederik Jensen and Andreas Hemme
In Denmark, a man who at any point in their life has had sex with another man, has a lifetime quarantine from donating blood. The rule was instituted in the 1980’s, as a way to stop the spread of HIV, because the disease was more prevalent in the homosexual population.
But the lifetime quarantine rule is outdated and discriminating, according to several parties in the Danish parliament. The Alternative, the sixth-largest party in Denmark by political representation and member of the opposition, is therefore working on a motion to change the rule that will be submitted in the fall.
“We want to change the lifetime quarantine rule to a temporary one, similar to the rules that they have in the US and Sweden. As a principle, we think it’s wrong to ban people from donating blood based on their sexual identity, and we think the quarantine rules should be based on sexual conduct instead,” says Marie Røthing Hørlyck, intern for Carolina Magdalene Maier, The Alternatives rapporteur of health.
Homosexual sex isn’t the only risk anymore
This view is backed up by several other parties in the Danish parliament. Liselott Blixt, The rapporteur of health from the Danish Peoples Party, Denmarks second biggest party, is of the opinion that homosexuals should be able to donate blood under the same rules as heterosexuals.
Heterosexual donors have to go through a screening process before donating blood. In it, the potential donor fills out a questionnaire that also has questions regarding sexual conduct. If a heterosexual has been exposed to a possible HIV infection, for example by having sex with a prostitute or a bisexual man, they get a 4 month quarantine from donating blood.
“These days, people have sex in so many ways, with whoever and with multiple partners. But you fill out a questionnaire when donating blood, and if you’ve had sex that puts you in risk of getting HIV, you get a 4 month quarantine, and that’s how it is. But I don’t see the difference if you’re a man, a woman, gay or whatever. So of course I don’t think homosexual men should be banned for life from donating blood,” Says Liselott Blixt.
Changes should be based on medical advice
Jens Lundgren, professor of viral diseases, thinks that the differentiation between hetero- and homosexuals is unnecessary.
“Earlier, homosexuals had a much higher risk of getting infected with HIV, but today, the problem is not as big. Yes, there is still a higher risk, but not by that much. The real risk is if we can get people to tell us about what they do in the bedroom, but that is the same for heterosexuals, so is it really necessary to make this distinction?” says Jens Lundgren
Jonas Dahl, rapporteur of health for the Socialist People’s Party, is also of the opinion that a lifetime quarantine for gays is discriminatory, but stresses the point that regulations to the rules should also be with made with the safety of patients as the top priority.
“A lifetime quarantine for all gay men is like giving a lifetime quarantine to people living in a certain area code. We have to trust people who actively choose to donate blood. But the new quarantine should have scientific medical backing, so we can guarantee the patients safety,” says Jonas Dahl.
Both the Red-Green Alliance and the Liberal Alliance supports a model where the lifetime ban is removed, but safe blood can still be guaranteed.
We have not been able to get a comment from The Social Democrats or The Liberal Party who would be necessary for a majority vote.