The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) is an Indian governmental organization, which is ruled by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The institution promoted National Blood Donor Day on June 14, 2017 so that many people were encouraged to donate their blood in a good cause. And during the campaign, it has been revealed that NACO has classified all LGBTI people as a “high-risk category” and has banned them from donating blood. Dr Farah Ingale, the Senior Internal Medicine Specialist at Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi commented: “They are categorized as High Risk Group mainly because they have multiple sexual partners and there is a high incidence of HIV. There are tests before blood transfusion, but they are not 100 per cent accurate every time. So, it is better to avoid rather than taking risks. In India, not many are aware about their medical history”.
In reference to the statement, LGBT community recognized this as unalloyed discrimination. Harish Iyer, an Indian LGBT activist resented this fact: “The blood given to any laboratory needs to be tested. If a straight person donated blood, is it offered to a beneficiary without testing? What’s the point in declaring an entire community as High Risk? This is nothing but discrimination. Don’t the non-LGBT people engage in high risk behavior? Don’t they visit commercial sex workers? Do they not engage in drugs? The medical fraternity needs to stand up against this”.
While many countries have banned men who have sex with men because of the perceived increased risk of HIV, it is uncommon to ban all LGBTI people. There has been a practice in many countries to lift the ban on men who have sex with men donating blood, for example in Switzerland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and France. But there are countries, like Australia, USA and Fiji, who still have bans on the issue.