Homosexual men in the Netherlands can now donate blood more easily. The only requirement is that they have been in a committed monogamous relationship for at least 12 months, the Dutch blood bank said on Wednesday.
Until now, homosexuals in the country were only allowed to donate blood if they had not had sex for at least four months.
Since 2015, the blood bank has been trying to ease the restrictions, said Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi, head of the centre.
Now the risk assessment is being adjusted, which is expected to result in several hundred additional blood donors.
There are still plans to accept donations from homosexuals without a steady partner as of next year.
First, the current relaxation will be tested, and in the future, those affected should be asked more specifically about behaviours that increases the risk of blood-borne infections.
This is not so easy, since the questions must capture the risks and not embarrass the potential blood donor.
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As the Dutch blood bank explained, the very restrictive approach to homosexual blood donors was based on empirical data showing that they are much more likely to have blood-borne infections than men with exclusively heterosexual contacts.
There are also restrictions on blood donations for people who have spent time in areas where one can be infected malaria or where the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease occurs.
Controversial restrictions over homosexual men donating blood are also to be reviewed in Germany, the Ministry of Health recently announced.