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France to End Law Banning Gay Men from Donating Blood

Update Date: Nov 04, 2015 11:43 AM EST

Homosexual and bisexual men living in France will now be able to donate blood.

The nation's health minister Marisol Touraine announced Wednesday that the law banning gay men from giving blood, which has existed for more than three decades, is coming to an end. The law was first implemented as a way to stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections, particularly HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS.

"Giving blood is a generous act that cannot be conditioned by sexual orientation," Touraine said in his speech reported by Reuters. "On the basis of proposals that were made to me ... I have decided to put an end to the exclusion from blood donation of men that have sex with men."

She added, "While respecting the absolute security of patients, it is a taboo, a discrimination that is being lifted today."

Touraine added that gay men would be able to donate blood - with strict conditions - starting next spring. Although gay advocacy groups are happy that the outdated ban has been lifted, they criticized the provisions that continue to treat gay donors differently from heterosexual donors.

The European Union law states that people who are believed to be at high-risk of contracting infectious diseases based on their sexual behavior can legally and permanently be banned from donating blood.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) reported that France currently has the highest rate of HIV in gay men throughout Europe. Within the nation from 2003 to 2008, roughly 50 percent of the new cases were diagnosed in men who had sex with men.

Within the United States, the Food and Drug Administration recommended easing the ban on gay men in 2014. The FDA stated that men who have abstained from sex with other men for at least one year should be allowed to donate blood. The proposal was put forward in May of this year.

Other nations that have implemented a 12-month deferral period include the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and Japan.

In Italy and Spain, all donors, regardless of their sexual orientation, are screened based on their sexual practices. Deferral periods are then determined via a case-by-case basis.

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