SDP Demands All Croatian Citizens Be Allowed To Donate Blood Without Discrimination

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As Večernji reports, the Ordinance on special technical requirements for blood and blood products states that blood must not be donated by “persons whose sexual behaviour puts them at high risk of contracting infectious diseases that can be transmitted through blood”. The website of the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine states that blood must not be donated by “men who have had sexual intercourse with other men in their lives.” Such men are permanently banned from donating blood solely because of their sexual orientation, which is extremely discriminatory and unconstitutional, SDP claims.

Restrictions on blood donation were prescribed back during the 1980s owing to the HIV pandemic, but today there is no reason for such drastic restrictions that put a certain social group in an unequal and defamatory position, the Social Democrats believe.

“The obligation of the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine is to test each dose of donated blood for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, and HIV. The safety of donated blood is ensured by a temporary ban for people who have been at risk of becoming sexually and blood-infected in the last three months, but this does not depend on sexual orientation. The question, therefore, arises as to why gay men are obliged to state their sexual preferences to a doctor and why they are permanently banned from donating blood solely because of this fact?” SPD wrote in their statement.

Back in 2015, a court in Strasbourg ruled that the criteria for donating blood based on sexual orientation were both stigmatising and discriminatory. “Today, when Croatia is facing a shortage of blood supplies and blood products, which is why more complicated operations are being postponed in some hospitals, any restriction that could endanger the health or the life of a human being is unacceptable for us,” SDP stated.

They point out that Croatia has one of the most rigorous laws in the world on this issue, so we’re in a group of countries such as China, Lebanon, UAE, Venezuela, and Turkey.

“There are also Switzerland, Austria, not to mention further. The criteria are adopted by the profession guided by the safety of blood recipients and in accordance with epidemiological trends and risks. This is not about discrimination because it is not the only population that cannot donate blood. Epidemiological indicators show that more than 90% of newly diagnosed HIV cases in Croatia every year are among men who have sexual relations with men,” explained Dr. Irena Jukic, the director of the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine.

She states that a lot of attention and a lot of money is spent on tests in order to avoid the danger of contracting an infection through blood transfusion, and during the summer they will test the entire population of blood donors for the presence of the dangerous West Nile virus. Despite all modern molecular tests that can be done, there is a so-called window period, a certain number of days or weeks during which the blood can still transmit Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis and various other infectious diseases without a test picking up on their presence.

“In this ‘window period’, positivity cannot be detected either by an antigen test or an antibody test,” stated Dr. Jukic, adding that a transfusion can be given intrauterine, ie to the child when still in the mother’s womb.

“On World Blood Donor Day, politicians could unite and donate blood. A lot of them are able to give blood, and they don’t do that, although that would help those who need it the most,” Dr. Jukic added.

Blood can be given by any healthy person between the ages of 18 and 65 if they weigh at least 55 kilograms, have a normal blood pressure and enough hemoglobin in their blood.

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