I would like to raise some points with reference to recent developments concerning the donation of blood by male homosexuals.

The European Court of Justice decided that a category of citizens like MSM persons cannot be deferred, barred or excluded permanently from donating blood.

The nucleic acid test (NAT) does not eliminate the risk of HIV transmission but cuts the risk substantially by reducing the window period to three days (2.9).

To donate blood is not a basic human right.

Patients do have a right to be transfused with safe blood or blood as safe as is humanly possible (100 per cent safe blood does not exist).

The patient’s interest should come first and foremost to administrators, experts in the field and blood donors themselves.

It was advisable that the removal of the permanent exclusion be replaced by more specific questions, like the nature of the relationship, the number of times, how recent was the last one, the number of partners and attendance at certain nightspots as well as the systematic quarantining of plasma. According to the European Court of Justice, permanent exclusion of a category of citizens was replaced by temporary individual deferral.

These last few days, the US Food and Drug Administration has decided that gay men can donate blood 12 months after their last contact with another man, overturning a 30-year ban.

It remains a must for any blood donor, every time s/he donates blood, at whichever and whatever donation centre or site, to answer the questionnaire, do the pre-donation tests and be interviewed and examined by a doctor.

The final say and responsibility whether to allow a person to donate blood or defer temporarily, also permanently if the donor’s lifestyle is considered a high risk to patients, rests solely with the screening doctor. This applies to any donor, whether it is a person in authority or Tom, Dick and Harry.

The screening questionnaire signed by the donor and witnessed by the signature of the screening doctor is retained for 10 years, for traceability and accountability should look-back testing finds transmission of HIV, HepB and HCV.

I augur the above points are taken into consideration in the drafting of any law concerning the donation of blood by MSM citizens.