Thai Red Cross To Adopt New Policy Banning Blood Donations from MSM
The Thai Red Cross Society plans to adopt a policy that bans blood donations from men who have sex with men, the Bangkok Post reports. TRCS said it recently discovered large amounts of unused donated blood that tested positive for HIV. In-depth interviews and preliminary tests found that most of the blood was donated by MSM who had engaged in risky sex, Soisaang Pikulsod, director of the TRCS' National Blood Centre, said. Under the new policy, NBS will screen high-risk donors through questionnaires that will ask men to identify whether they are MSM. The questionnaires also will ask women to say whether they have had sex with men from high-prevalence countries. Donor questionnaires and declarations can help reduce the risk of accepting blood from HIV-positive people, according to a study recently published in Transfusion Medicine, Soisaang said.
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has said it opposes the new policy and will call on the country's constitutional court to prevent it from being implemented. In addition, the commission this week will discuss the new policy and ways to prevent its implementation with people who are affected by it. Naiyana Supapueng, NHRC commissioner, said the new policy is equivalent to sexual discrimination under the Thai Constitution. The policy should not be a "total rejection" of MSM, Naiyana said, adding, "Taking away people's rights is not the correct thing to do."
Soisaang said TRCS "has the right to protect patients who are waiting for blood transfusions to save their lives by screening blood from specific donors that have high-risk sexual behavior." She added that the new policy is in line with World Health Organization guidelines (Bangkok Post, 3/30).