On Wednesday, November 4th, 2015, France announced that they were lifting their ban, which started in 1983, on men donating blood if they have sex with other men. These changes will not occur until spring 2016, and it will be a process of lifting the ban through gradual changes. In spring 2016, men who have sex with men will be able to donate blood if they have not had sex with men in a year. Other countries like England have instituted the same policy, and countries like Denmark and the United States have a complete ban on men who have sex with man donating blood.
France has included plasma donation with the removal of men who have sex with men on a shorter timeline. Men who have sex with men are permitted to donate plasma if they have not engaged sexually with other men in four months. The sample, as with blood, will be tested for diseases and HIV before being given to people who need it.
For those who are unsure why the term 'men who have sex with men' is used as opposed to gay men, or homosexuals, is because not every man who has sex with a man is a homosexual. Those men may identify as something other than gay, like bisexual, or pansexual, or a number of other identities. The wording here is inclusive, to make sure that all men who have sex with men are included.
Many critics, including myself, honestly, wonder why there is still a need for a gradual end to this ban. This still treats men who have sex with men differently than other blood donors, despite the fact that the new policy claims to be stopping the discrimination against men who have sex with men in blood donation. Really, it begs the question, is this lifting of the ban all that progressive? Why not take immediate action and lift it completely and immediately? All the blood gets tested regardless, so the duration of time men can't have sex with other men to donate blood still feels like a controlling policy. Many critics point out the window for HIV showing up in the bloodstream is less than 12 months, so the length of time doesn't make medical sense.
If the ban is to make sure HIV shows up on tests, then men who don't have sex with men should also be waiting 12 months -- not four (and that is only if they've had more than one partner). Overall, while lifting the ban is a good start, it still has a long way to go.
CNN article on this announcement for further reading:
This article provides information on American policies on blood donation as well to give an easy to way compare France's and the US's policies.