The Ministry of Health and Welfare is planning to ease a ban on blood donations by gay men by May at the earliest, allowing them to donate blood five years after their last sexual contact with another man.
Current regulations, which have been enforced for 28 years, impose a lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have had sexual encounters with other men.
However, many countries have abolished such lifelong prohibitions, including the US government, which overturned its 30-year ban on donations by gay men in 2015, instead instituting a 12-month deferral period.
Calling the policy discriminatory, a petition for the removal of the ban was submitted to the government-funded online public policy platform last year, and the ministry held an advisory committee meeting in September last year to discuss the issue.
Committee members suggested that as HIV testing has greatly improved, Taiwan can follow the examples of other countries by setting a deferral period and observing the consequences, Food and Drug Administration medicinal products division deputy chief Chi Jo-feng (祁若鳳) said yesterday.
As the Centers for Disease Control has also suggested setting a deferral period, the ministry is considering lifting the ban and setting the deferral period at five years.
The proposed amendment is still being reviewed and might be announced late next month, with the new policy taking effect in May at the earliest, if there are no strong objections to the proposal.
The proposal also includes a temporary blood donation ban on people who have visited areas where the Zika virus has spread, have been infected by the virus or have had sexual contact with a person infected by the virus.
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