Dublin conference to discuss lifting of ban on gay blood donations

A new policy document will be presented to the Department of Health

Gay blood, ban, IBTS, conference, men, health, HIV, at risk groups, Dr William Murphy

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The lifting of a lifetime ban on blood donations by gay men and other men who have sex with men will be subject of a two-day conference.

The event will take place Thursday and Friday at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service is hosting the conference, and say it "wishes to reconsider its position on blood donation from men who have sex with men".

While many European countries have relaxed their bans, few have lifted the ban outright.

The ban was introduced to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from blood transfusion in the mid-1980s.

A similar lifetime ban in the UK was reduced to one year in 2011.

Last year, the European Court of Justice found that a lifetime ban on gay men giving blood donations may be justified in limited circumstances.

The court ruled that the blanket ban is not a proportionate response if there are other methods of ensuring a high-level of health protection for the recipients of blood products.

Reports say a recommendation to remove the lifetime ban here is expected.

Following the conference, the IBTS will present a future policy document to its board in May. This will then go to the Department of Health for approval in June.

Dr William Murphy is the medical director of the IBTS. He told Newstalk Breakfast countries that have removed the ban have not seen any increase in blood diseases.