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South African
gays fear backlash over blood donations

South African
gays fear backlash over blood donations

Gay organizations and AIDS advocacy groups in South Africa are worried about a public backlash against gays, following the announcement by a fringe gay group that its members--including one with AIDS--had donated blood to protest a new ban on gay blood donors in the country. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance announced on Friday that its members lied on questionnaires about their sexual orientation and sexual histories before donating blood and that many had a history of high-risk sex and have never been tested for HIV infection.

Last week the South African National Blood Service announced it was no longer accepting blood donations from sexually active gay men, who are at a high risk of HIV infection, it says. The decision angered gay groups around the country and led to the risky blood donations by Gay and Lesbian Alliance members to protest the policy.

But gay leaders in the country say the alliance's actions could lead to a backlash against gay people in the country. "We are incredibly opposed to this terror tactic of the GLA," Glen de Swart of the Triangle Project, the nation's oldest gay group, told Agence France-Presse. Mark Heywood, a spokesman for the South African HIV advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign, called the organization's actions "criminal and irresponsible," adding that they "can only inflame passions and fuel homophobia."

The blood service says it will take legal action against any donor who deliberately tries to donate HIV-infected blood and pass the virus on to others, but it notes that it has been unable so far to track down the records of any of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance members who claimed to have lied on their questionnaires. (

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