Switzerland to scrap blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men
The Swiss Federal Council has announced that gay and bisexual men will soon be subject to the same blood donation rules as the rest of the population. The new policy will likely come into force from October 2023.
Update: The new blood donation rules will come into force from November 1, 2023.
Blood donation criteria in Switzerland to change
In a statement, the government confirmed that the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic) has amended the country's criteria for blood donation. They explained that the change is “based on an updated risk assessment of various sexual behaviours and takes due account of the epidemiological situation in Switzerland as well as data from other countries that have already adapted their donation criteria accordingly.”
Federal authorities explained that before 2017, spurred by concerns regarding the spread of HIV / AIDS, the Swiss healthcare system had prohibited "men who have sex with men (MSM)" from giving blood due to “high-risk behaviour”. Then, in January 2017, Swissmedic started to allow MSMs to give blood at least 12 months after their last sexual contact.
Rules for blood donors in Switzerland the same for all people
Now, the Federal Council confirmed that “the same exclusion criteria apply for all persons after new sexual contacts - regardless of whether these are heterosexual or homosexual.” They predicted that it would take three months to implement the policy, meaning it will likely come into force from October 2023.
From October, all people will be subject to the same “abstinence rules” around giving blood. This means that people are only allowed to give blood four months after their last new sexual contact, or 12 months after sexual contact with two or more new partners within a four-month period.
Giving blood in Switzerland
For more information about the change, check out the press release from the Federal Council. If you would like to help save a life and give blood yourself, please visit the official blood donation website (in English).