PARIS — France will end its ban on blood donations by gay men, its health minister said last week, calling the move the end “of a taboo and discrimination,” the Associated Press reports.
Health Minister Marisol Touraine said beginning in the spring of 2016, no blood donors can be refused based on their sexual orientation. She spoke at a meeting in the Health Ministry on Nov. 4 after experts studied the issue, the AP reports.
The policy shift comes after a European Court of Justice ruling in April found that government bans must follow strict conditions. Many governments had imposed lifetime bans on gay men because they are more likely than other groups to have HIV.
Touraine said lifting the blood donation ban will proceed in stages, to allow the government to study whether and how the risks change, the AP notes. Lesbians were not covered by the French ban.
In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed ending its lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, a 32-year-old policy that many experts say is no longer justified. Under the proposal, the current ban on donations from gay men would be replaced with a policy barring donations from men who have had sex with another man in the last year.
That policy shift would put the U.S. in line with other countries that have a one-year deferral period on donations from sexually active gay men, including Australia, Japan and the U.K., the AP reports.