State: Gay men, Ethiopian-born Israelis can donate blood

Health Ministry relaxes rules to focus on donors’ individual sexual and travel histories, rather than banning donations based on sexual orientation or country of origin; Decision based on technological advances in testing, experience of other countries.

The controversial policy that prevented Ethiopian-born Israelis, gay men, and older Israelis from donating blood will be abolished, the Health Ministry announced on Thursday.

The decision comes 18 months after a committee of experts, led by the head of Haifa University’s School of Public Health, Professor Manfred Green, said the restrictions were no longer necessary thanks to new blood-testing technology and because leading health public health agencies in Europe and the United States, including the Food and Drug Administration, have revised their policies on similar groups.

“Israel will soon have an upgraded ability to test for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV,” the committee wrote. “This will shorten the window period for detecting infections and thus reduce the risk posed by blood donations from the general public and from those particular groups.”

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