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France: Prohibition on Blood Donation by Gay Men

(Feb. 4, 2009) France's Minister of Health recently signed a regulation increasing the maximum age for donating blood to 70 from 65. The regulation also reiterates the prohibition on blood donations by gay men. During an interview, the Minister of Heath justified her decision by stating:

[T]he epidemic data cannot be contested: between 10 to 18% of gay men are contaminated [with AIDS], while this percentage is 0.2% for heterosexuals. The epidemic situations are not the same. There is a risk and this risk is too high … It is not a philosophical option, it is a question related to the security of transfusions.

(Les homosexuels masculins toujours exclus du don du sang, LeMonde.FR, Jan. 15, 2009, (Archives).) This prohibition was originally established in 1983 for individuals considered a risk, in particular gay men and drug addicts. Several associations leading the fight against AIDS oppose the decision as discriminatory and not justified from a sanitary standpoint. (Id.)