Newly appointed Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) has asked her professional staff to re-examine the issue of criteria for blood donors.
German is hoping to do away with a controversial question on the blood donor form, which asks if the would-be donor has “engaged in male homosexual relations since 1977.” There is an ongoing online campaign to do away with the question, which opponents say discriminates against homosexuals.
German asked her ministry to look into the matter following several complaints from men who said they were humiliated at being asked to stop donating blood when medics discovered they were in sexually active homosexual relationships.
Sources in Magen David Adom have previously defended the existing criteria as necessary given the increased rates of sexually transmitted diseases in the homosexual male community. Diseases such as HIV can be passed to recipients via infected blood.
While Western countries generally screen out blood donors who admit to recent homosexual male sexual activity, many have recently changed their policy to allow for a waiting period of just 12 months between sexual activity and blood donation. The United States continues to use 1977 – four years before the AIDS virus was officially discovered - as the cut-off date, but, like Israel, is facing calls to change its criteria.