To minimise the risk of transmitting HIV and other blood-borne viruses via the blood supply, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (the Blood Service) has policies restricting donations from people who are considered to be in high-risk groups. These are called donation deferral policies.
The Blood Service uses a questionnaire to screen people wanting to donate blood. Potential donors must sign a declaration that they have answered the questions honestly and to the best of their knowledge.
As of April 2020 the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) decided to revise the blood donation deferral period for gay and bisexual men to three months. This still needs to be approved by Commonwealth, state and territory governments and implemented by Lifeblood (formerly the Blood Service). See AFAO’s media release here.
Until approval of the TGA’s recommendation above, anyone who has engaged in male to male sex in the previous 12 months is currently deferred from blood donation for a period of 12 months following their last male to male sex. Deferrals in relation to sexual activities also cover people who have engaged in the last 12 months in sex work and people who have had a sexual partner who has ever injected themselves with drugs not prescribed by a doctor or dentist. A person who has ever injected drugs is precluded for life from donating blood.
Health Equity Matters’ (formerly AFAO) update on the Blood Donor Deferral Policy, can be found here.