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Parliamentary questions
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18 November 2019
 E-002809/2019
Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-002809/2019

The Commission is committed to combatting any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation within the limits conferred to it by the Treaties. In the case of blood donation by men who have sex with men (MSM) both the non-discrimination principle and the principle of protecting public health are applicable.

Directive 2004/33/EC(1) lays down certain technical requirements in order to prevent the transmission of diseases by blood and blood components including deferral criteria for blood donors including deferrals of persons whose (sexual) behaviour puts them at risk of acquiring infectious diseases. When implementing those deferral criteria, it is up to each Member State to determine the types of (sexual) behaviour and the degree of risk involved which may lead to a deferral of certain types of blood donors, taking into account the specific situation in each Member State and based on current medical, scientific and epidemiological knowledge and data.

Sex between men remains the predominant route of transmission of HIV with 38% of all EU/European Economic Area HIV diagnoses transmitted through sex between men(2).

Most Member States apply either temporary or permanent deferrals for MSM in order to protect recipients of donated blood from the risk of infectious disease transmission. Since the 2015 Court ruling in the Léger case(3), at least three Member States have moved from permanent deferrals of MSM to temporary ones. In the United Kingdom, with the exception of Northern Ireland, the deferral period has been reduced from twelve months to three months.

While donor testing methods and the availability of such tests have improved in recent years, the risk of under-detection of infectious diseases has not been completely removed.

(1)https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32004L0033&from=EN
(2) https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/hiv-aids-surveillance-europe-2018.pdf
(3) http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?num=C-528/13
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