Gay men will be able to donate blood by the end of the summer once new equipment is up and running.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed with Lovin Malta that equipment, which adds another layer of safety to the screening of donated blood to reduce the risk of transfusion transmitted infections, has been delivered and installed.
The new equipment will make use of nucleic acid testing, which will make it easier to detect infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B.
“Testing and validation of the equipment is underway…by later this summer, the new technology will be put in use,” the spokesperson said.
Plans to give gay men the possibility to donate blood, a longstanding demand of the LGBT community, were first announced by Fearne last year.
Malta’s Mobile Blood Donation Unit is used an average of four days a week, with the island’s hospitals needing some 50 bags of blood on a daily basis.
However, there are regular shortages of blood, with the Blood Donation Unit only yesterday launching an impassioned appeal for O-negative donors, informing the public that cancer patients at the Oncology Centre are patiently waiting for it.
“These patients cannot receive any other type of blood so they will have to keep waiting until it arrives,” it said, while making sure to thank the eleven people who donated blood the previous day.