Switzerland has joined a growing number of countries lifting lifetime bans on gay and bisexual men donating blood. As of July 1, men who have sex with men may give blood in the European country, so long as they have been celibate for at least 12 months.
The policy update, requested by Swiss Transfusion SRC last June, is an improvement but still bars a majority of MSM from donating.
Critics claim any ban is unnecessary, given how good current testing is. Others insist donors should be judged based on individual behavior, not membership in a broad group.
The Netherlands dropped its lifetime ban in favor of a year’s abstinence in 2015, the same year the U.S. did. The 12-onth moratorium has also been adopted by Sweden, Finland and the United Kingdom. But other nations like Argentina, Spain, Portugal, and South Africa now screen blood donors based on individual risk factors.
D.C. resident Jay Franzone, who went a year without sex so he could donate blood, condemns the one-year rule.
“I can’t receive oral sex over the course of one year, but my best friend can sleep with eight different women in a week and go donate blood, no problem, without any protection,” he said. “There’s something fundamentally wrong with that.”
Last summer, more than 100 members of Congress called upon the FDA to lift the ban completely.