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China lifts 14-year ban on lesbians donating blood

The ban still applies to men who are sexually active with other men, according to the Chinese Ministry of Health's website.
lesbians china blood donation Enlarge
A woman walks past a blood donation sign in downtown Beijing on December 29, 2010. (LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images)

China has lifted a ban on lesbians donating blood.

The 14-year-old ban still applies to men who are sexually active with other men, CNN reported, citing the Chinese Ministry of Health's website.

An exception is made for celibate homosexuals.

Similar policies are in effect in the US and UK, with the US Food and Drug Administration taking the step in December 2011 of prohibiting men who have had sex with other men at any time since 1977 from donating blood, IANS reported.

Britain allowed gay men to donate blood provided they had abstained from sex for 12 months, IANS wrote.

The ban was enacted in 1998 out of a fear blood donations by sexually active homosexuals would spread HIV and AIDS.

Sexologist Li Yinhe told the Global Times daily that China's "Whole Blood and Component Donor Selection Requirements" policy arose after China learnt about AIDS and homosexuality at roughly the same time, in the 1980s.

"The nation easily believed that being a homosexual equates to AIDS," Li said.

"Inadequate understanding of the two things was the main reason why 'homosexuals' was listed as a group not allowed to donate blood, as a way to prevent the spread of AIDS."

According to CNN, the first identified AIDS case in China involved an Argentinean tourist who died from the disease while on vacation there in 1985.

Like other areas of the world, the epidemic was shrouded in confusion which was exacerbated in China by official denials that it existed there.

China's amended "Whole Blood" policy allowing lesbians to donate took effect July 1.

A staff member from Beijing Red Cross Blood Center confirmed to the Global Times anonymously Monday that the center and mobile blood centers had received notice of the new policy.

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