A new one year stand down period for sexually active gay and bisexual men has now come into effect in New Zealand and means men who haven’t anal or oral sex with another man in a year can now donate blood. 

Previously, there was a five year probationary period.

Dr Peter Saxton from the Gay Men’s Sexual Health research group has welcomed the changes.


“We welcome the reduction in the deferral period for MSM as well as for other groups at elevated probability of undiagnosed HIV infection. We also accept that maintaining some period of deferral reflects the best scientific evidence currently available. The absolute probability of undiagnosed infection may often be small, but the relative probability is greater for MSM. If the evidence changes, then we look forward to the criteria being revisited, as recommended in the report.”

We note that around 20% of all prospective donors are deferred for a variety of reasons, such as a recent tattoo, and some are deferred based on heterosexual behaviours. New deferrals include ones based on travel and the risk of insect borne viruses.

“The new policy will mean New Zealand has among the least restrictive donor deferral criteria for gay and bisexual men internationally, whilst still maintaining a safe, voluntary and completely self-sufficient blood supply.”

“We recognise that the most important duty for the NZ Blood Service is to protect blood recipients, to be precautionary, and we all benefit from that.”

Article | Levi Joule.