November 06, 2023
More gay and bisexual men can now donate blood in Switzerland after the European country introduced individual donor assessment on Wednesday. In July, Swissmedic, the country’s health regulator, approved a submission from SRK Switzerland, the Swiss Red Cross, to introduce IDA.
Under this revised approach, anyone who has not had a new sexual partner within four months before their appointment can donate blood without a deferral period, provided they meet all other eligibility criteria. Donors with one new sexual partner must wait for four months, regardless of their sexual orientation. Those with more than two sexual partners within the four months prior to donation must wait 12 months.
Before this change, men who have sex with men (MSM) in Switzerland had to wait 12 months after their most recent sexual contact with another man before donating blood. Between 1985 and 2017, MSM were indefinitely deferred from blood donation.
In 2022, SRK Switzerland, in collaboration with regional blood donation services and the Federal Office of Public Health, conducted a regular evaluation of the country's donor eligibility process. The findings indicated that the residual risk for transfusion transmission of HIV in Switzerland is comparable to or lower than in countries where the IDA has already been introduced. These findings, combined with insights from other nations' experiences, helped inform Swissmedic's decision to approve IDA.
Furthermore, AABB would like to remind members of the blood community in the United States of the availability of complimentary resources to support the implementation of IDA.