China has lifted a longtime ban on blood donations — by lesbians.
The Ministry of Health changed the policy, effective this week, that since 1998 had prohibited “homosexuals” from giving blood due to the possibility of HIV transmission. But while unprotected sex between men is a frequent route of transmitting the virus, transmission during sex between women is highly unlikely.
“Well-known sexologist Li Yinhe said that as China learnt about AIDS and homosexuality at roughly the same time, in the 1980s, ‘the nation easily believed that being a homosexual equates to AIDS,’” the Global Times reports. Now the merely says men who are sexually active with other men are barred from donating blood.
Men who have sex with men have long been prohibited from donating blood in many Western nations, including the United States. Activists, however, have campaigned for lifting these bans in countries where blood products are commonly screened for HIV, such as the U.S. And they point out, of course, that condoms are a reliable means of preventing transmission during male-to-male sex, and that most gay men do not have HIV.