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China lifts ban on lesbians giving blood

By Molly Gray, for CNN
July 6, 2012 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
As of July 1, lesbians in China are allowed to donate blood after a 1998 ban was amended.
As of July 1, lesbians in China are allowed to donate blood after a 1998 ban was amended.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A 1998 ban has been amended in China to allow lesbian women to donate blood
  • The previous blood donor regulations included lesbians and homosexual men as at-risk groups for AIDS
  • Men who are sexually active with other men are still banned from donating blood
  • Change in regulation signals increased understanding of AIDS by the Chinese government, activists say

Hong Kong (CNN) -- The Chinese Ministry of Health has lifted a 14-year-old ban on lesbians donating blood in effect as of July 1.

The ban still applies to men who are sexually active with other men, but celibate homosexuals are permitted to give blood, according to the Ministry of Health's website.

The original ban, enacted in 1998, barred homosexuals of both genders from donating blood out of a fear of spreading HIV and AIDS.

'Mama Wu' unlikely hero for homosexuals in China

Xu Bin, a prominent lesbian rights activist in China, told the Global Times she applauded the amendment and what it means for lesbians in China.

"It is also about our dignity and the elimination of blood donation discrimination," she was quoted as saying.

Home HIV test closer to reality

Xu, who goes by her nickname Xian, first tried to donate blood in 2008 after an earthquake in Sichuan Province, when she learned of the ban and began campaigning against it.

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"It's scientific that the policy doesn't mention homosexual identity but only fences off some who have certain sex behaviors, because AIDS is not caused by one's homosexual identity but improper sexual behavior," Xian told the Global Times.

AIDS first made an appearance in China in the 1980s when an Argentinean tourist died from the disease while on holiday in the country. Like other areas of the world, the epidemic was shrouded in confusion which was exacerbated in China by official denials that it existed there.

However, more recently, organizations such as UNAIDS, the joint United Nations program on HIV and AIDS, have commended the Chinese government on advancements in the attitude on AIDS.

In June, UNAIDS reported that its executive director had visited the country and praised the government's "major investments in China's AIDS response and a dramatic scale-up of HIV prevention, treatment and care programs."

The new regulations also include several other changes, including raising the age limit to 60, increasing the amount donated from 200 ml to 400 ml and shortening the required period of time between donations.

Campaigners push for marriage equality worldwide

CNN's Corinna Liu in Hong Kong and Shao Tian in Beijing contributed to this report.

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