AIDS was discovered in gay men and the virus is more easily transmitted through anal than vaginal intercourse. For this reason, gay men (defined as “men who have sex with men”) have long been forbidden to donate blood in Sweden. Likewise, people who go to bed with a new hetero partner must wait three months before donating blood again.
Now the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare has decided to change the rules. A bit. Gay men are now allowed to donate blood. If the last time they had sex with a man was more than a year ago. So you’re only allowed to donate blood if you’re gay in the abstract, not in practice.
I don’t know what to think here. The changed rules are certainly more symbolic than practical in effect. But the virus is much more common among gay men than among heteros. And among blood donors who have showed up as positive in HIV screening, gay men are also strongly over-represented. (But they’re not allowed to donate in the first place, so I don’t know where those data come from.)
Still, regardless of who has it more and who has it less, the virus is very uncommon overall in Sweden, and those infected get good treatment that keeps their infectiousness way, way down. I don’t know what’s the bigger risk here: people dying from lack of donated blood or people contracting HIV from an infected blood bag.