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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 28, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 52
Mexico repeals ban on Gay blood donors
Section One
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Mexico repeals ban on Gay blood donors

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A new public health rule has gone into effect in Mexico, doing away with the previous ban on blood donations from Gay and Bi men, according to blogger Andres Duque.

Duque, who writes on the site Blabbeando, picked up reports of the new health rules from the Mexican blog Animal Politico.

The new regulation, NOM 253, was adopted on October 26 and went into effect on Christmas Day. The old rule, NOM 003-SSA2, explicitly banned Gay and Bisexual men from donating blood 'because of their practices' and their 'increased probability of acquiring HIV or hepatitis infection.'

Sex workers, intravenous drug users, former convicts, and people with mental illness were also excluded. NOM 003-SSA2 was drafted in 1993.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH
The new NOM 253 eliminates specific bans on Gay and Bisexual men and instead bans blood donations from people with HIV or hepatitis, their sexual partners, and people who engage in 'risky sexual practices' regardless of their sexual orientation.

'Risky sexual practices' are defined as those that may include 'contact or exchange of blood, sexual secretions, or other bodily secretions between someone who might have a transmittable disease and areas of another person's body through which an infectious agent might be able to penetrate.'

Under the new rule, confidential questionnaires are used to obtain information enabling health workers to 'identify potential risks to the health of the donor or recipients,' without identifying the donor's sexual orientation.

'If this report is correct,' Duque writes, 'Mexico might be the first country in the American continent to lift such a ban.'

NO CHANGE IN U.S. POLICY
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services solicited comments on a pilot study to 'assess alternative policies that would allow some Gay and Bisexual men to donate blood,' but has yet to take action. Argentina, Chile, and Colombia are also considering reversing their bans on Gay and Bi blood donors.

Great Britain abolished its ban on Gay blood donors in September 2011, but it still 'defers' donations from men who report having sex with men within the prior 12 months. A similar policy exists in other European Union countries.

Critics of the ban on Gay and Bi donors say improvements in testing and other safeguards have reduced the risk from transfusion-transmitted HIV to a very low level. They also assert that a promiscuous heterosexual male is a higher-risk donor than a Gay or Bi man in a monogamous relationship.

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