Since the HIV epidemic began in Sweden, there have been certain rules for blood donation. Prior to 2012, it was not possible at all for a man who had ever had sex with another man to donate blood. The information below includes RFSL's position on blood donation for men who have sex with men.
Rules for Blood Donation
It was not until 2012 that new guidelines from the National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden made it possible for MSM (men who have sex with men) to become blood donors. The potential donor has to abstain from sex with men for 12 months and the same time frame applies to women who have sex with MSM, and to sex workers.
Women who have sex with women and straight couples can give blood three-months after a sexual encounter with a new partner, but abstinence is not required.
Testing the Blood
All blood that is donated is tested to ensure that it does not contain bacteria or viruses that can transmit disease. New donors have to submit an initial blood test. It is only at the second visit that blood is taken for donation purposes. Before every donation, donors are subjected to an interview and all blood is tested for HIV, syphilis, Hepatitis B and C.
RFSL’s Position on Blood Donation
The number of blood donors decreases every year in Sweden and, at the same time, there are potential donors who would give blood if allowed – we believe that we need all the donors we can get.
The blood is thoroughly checked to ensure safety, and RFSL believes that MSM should have the right to donate, provided that patient safety standards are high.
Considering the research and the screening and testing of blood, RFSL does not think it necessary for MSM to abstain from sex for a whole year. Rather, there should be a 3-month period of abstinence for MSM that should also apply to women who have sex with MSM.
We need new research in the Swedish context about the blood donation rules. It needs to be investigated if the current risk groups and risk behaviours are still applicable in Sweden. We have too little knowledge at the moment to know if the blood donation rules are evidence based or not, and what the best rules would be in a Swedish context.