Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has called on Minister Simon Harris to explain the new criteria for blood donation in relation to those who take medication to prevent HIV infection, namely pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

In a parliamentary response to Sinn Féin from the Department of Health, we were informed that Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) must wait five years before donating blood if they have taken the contraceptive medication PrEP.

This is despite the recent announcement that Men who have Sex with Men will have the right to donate blood after a one year deferral period, a change from the former lifetime ban.

Senator Warfield said:

“I am shocked by the revelations today that the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is practicing such a discriminatory policy.

“The policy suggests that gay men, and MSM, who are responsible in using contraception, are somehow at ‘high-risk of infection’.

“When I requested that Minister Harris address the Seanad as a matter of urgency, Leader of the Seanad Senator Buttimer refused and suggested deferring the matter to an LGBT working group.

“There is no all-party Oireachtas group focussed on LGBT issues and nor would that group have any remit on this issue.

“I am calling on Minister Harris to directly address this harmful policy, which places yet another layer of discrimination on gay men who seek to donate blood”.