Triangle Project expressed grave concern at a statement issued by South African National Blood Council (SANBC) head, Dr Robert Crookes.
Dr Crookes has said that blood cannot be accepted from men who’ve engaged in oral or anal sex with men during the preceding five years, irrespective of whether that sex was safe or not. He stated that international medical reports indicate that MSM (men who have sex with men) showed increased risk of HIV transmission and other blood infections.
"It is known that unprotected anal sex poses a particular risk of HIV infection. However, it is a myth that all gay men practice this form of sexual expression and it is a fact that many heterosexual people engage in anal sex," says Glenn de Swardt, health services and research manager at Triangle Project.
"Instead of highlighting the risk of anal sex, irrespective of the sexual orientation of the people involved, Dr Crookes has chosen to pathologise the gay community. If he intends rejecting blood from gay men who have engaged in anal sex he should do likewise with blood from heterosexual donors who have practiced anal sex. Likewise, blood should not be accepted from any donor, irrespective of their sexual orientation, who has engaged in fellatio during the preceding five years."
Stigma and marginalisation
"HIV and Aids infect and affect people, irrespective of their age, race, gender or sexual orientation. We contend that Dr Crookes' statement is prejudiced and homophobic and contributes further to the stigmatisation and marginalisation of the gay community."
The organisation states that South Africa does not have valid information on the HIV infection rate in the gay community because data collected by the Department of Health on HIV prevalence is gleaned from pregnant women attending ante-natal clinics. "This neglect of the gay community is particularly highlighted by Dr Crookes' statement and we call on the Department of Health to remedy this by initiating relevant research," De Swardt says.
Triangle Project is the oldest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service organisation in Africa, based in Cape Town.
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