Homosexuals are still not allowed to donate blood now – postponed indefinitely – NRK Trøndelag – Local news, TV and radio

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This is a group that has waited a long time to be able to contribute to society by donating blood.

That’s what Hilde Arntsen, who is head of the association FRI, says.

In 2017, men who have sex with men were allowed to donate blood for the first time in Norway. But the requirement was that they could not have had sex with some in one year.

That made it practically impossible for homosexuals to donate blood.

At the same time, other western countries have cut back on the quarantine period, and introduced new testing, until there has been equality in their blood banks.

Last summer, the Minister of Health and Care and the Director of Health joined forces. They said that homosexuals would finally be allowed to donate blood on an equal basis with heterosexuals.

But now the authorities do not know when it will actually be implemented.

More complicated

We may have thought that the job would be easier than it turned out to besays health director Bjørn Guldvog.

Bjørn Guldvog

Bjørn Guldvog in the Directorate of Health said that homosexuals should be allowed to donate blood on an equal basis with heterosexuals.

Photo: Lars Os / NRK

Ahead of the decision last year, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health went through the infection control committee on whether men who have sex with men should be allowed to donate blood.

They concluded that the quarantine period of six months after the last new sex partner, which applies to heterosexuals, is also long enough for homosexuals.

They also thought it was not necessary to introduce new tests. Because in addition to the quarantine, those that are done today are enough to reveal, for example, possible HIV infection. But they suggested adding new questions to the questionnaire that blood donors must answer.

Blood bags in a blood bank.

In the last ten years, there have been fewer and fewer blood donors in Norway.

Photo: Helena Rønning / NRK

Our assessment is based on the fact that men who have sex with men, and who live in mutual, monogamous relationships, do not have a particularly increased risk of sexually transmitted infections compared to people in stable, heterosexual relationships.

That’s what the department director says Anne-Marte Bakken Kran in FHI.

She adds that they have not assessed the blood bank aspect of the case, and it is the Norwegian Directorate of Health that will make an overall assessment.

Now the director of health regrets that the directorate did not check properly with the blood banks.

We should anchor this better with the professional communities, says Guldvog.

The Ministry of Health and Care also warns that they will look into the matter further.

We have been informed about the delay, and have called in, among others, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and FHI to a meeting to be informed about this and the way forward, says State Secretary Karl Kristian Bekeng.

Skepticism

The professionals at the blood banks say they were not listened to until the Minister of Health and the Director of Health decided that homosexuals should be allowed to donate blood.

– The decision has been taken on a political basis, writes senior doctor Lise Sofie Nissen-Meyer at the blood bank in Oslo in an e-mail.

She says that those who are allowed to give blood in Norway today have been selected because they are particularly healthy and have a low risk of infection through the blood.

Nissen-Meyer and three colleagues from the blood banks have, commissioned by the transfusion service’s quality council, prepared a professional assessment of the possibility of allowing homosexuals to donate blood.

Lise Sofie H. Nissen-Meyer, section manager for blood donation at the Blood Bank at Ullevål Hospital in Oslo.

Lise Sofie H. Nissen-Meyer is head of the blood bank at Oslo University Hospital.

Photo: Nadir Alam / NRK

They recommend waiting to introduce this change in Norway until we have data from other countries. Among other things, about the hill that has gone where they have more testing and even the questionnaire. It is uncertain when this may be ready.

Nissen-Meyer says that patients should not be exposed to a possible increased risk of infection in order to turn a new group into possible blood donors.

– It is contrary to the blood banks’ well-established “precautionary” principle.

Safety

Our aim is not to exclude groups. Our goal is to minimize the risk for those who will receive blood, and make it as safe as possible for blood donors.

It says Einar Kristoffersen at Haukeland Hospital in Bergen.

Einar Kristoffersen, head of department at the blood bank at Haukeland Hospital.

Einar Kristoffersen is head of the blood bank in Bergen.

Photo: Ingfrid Hole Fossåskaret / NRK

He believes that a system has not yet been created to achieve that combination.

– We must put in place the tools we need to select donors so that we are sure that the blood to be given to patients is as safe after the change as it is today.

In FRI, they are impatient, although they are also concerned that this is done in a proper way.

We would have liked to have progressed further in that process, says Hilde Arntsen.

Director of Health Bjørn Guldvog says he expects to follow the advice from the blood banks to wait. And now the director of health does not dare to answer when there can be equality between homosexuals and heterosexuals.

– Nand have I gone too far in promising it once, and I won’t do it again. We will use the time that is sufficient.

  • Did you know that sex between men was illegal in Norway for 1000 years? Read the story of Karl and Johan two men who were punished for their love:



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