Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 30 March 2017) . . Page.. 1389 ..
“big brother” in this relationship, there is a lot that we can learn from forging a great connection with Sejong.
Sejong City is named after King Sejong the Great from the Joseon Dynasty in Korean History. He is fondly remembered by the Korean people as the father of the modern Korean alphabet. I certainly remember learning as a child about King Sejong and the rich history of my first tongue. It is fitting then that this new city for which I am now ambassador is named after such an important figure in Korean history.
Madam Deputy Speaker, it is a great privilege to be appointed ambassador for Sejong. It is an opportunity that would not have been extended to me if I were not an elected member of this Assembly. As I reflect on my first 150 days as an elected member for Kurrajong, I am once again reminded of the great ongoing responsibility that I have in discharging my duties to the people of Canberra.
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (4.49): The Australian Red Cross Blood Service currently relies on just three per cent of the population to maintain our nation’s blood supplies, yet Australia unnecessarily excludes thousands of healthy people in monogamous relationships from donating blood.
The current regulatory framework, as overseen by the federal independent regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, requires gay men to remain abstinent for a full year if they want to donate blood. Many good organisations encourage their employees to donate blood through blood donation challenges, and giving blood is an inherently good thing to do. But it also provokes discussion and the question: why are all men who have sex with men banned from donating blood?
As background, the ban was established in Australia during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Gay and bisexual men were more at risk as a population group of HIV/AIDS infection; so bans were put on them from donating blood. A decade ago, as scientific knowledge about HIV/AIDS became more concrete, the ban was transitioned to a preventative deferral period which sought to account for the so-called window periods, which is the incubation interval between intercourse and the time that HIV/AIDS becomes detectable.
Now all blood donations are automatically tested and modern detection techniques are more advanced, with a mere five to six day window period being the norm. Rapid testing also means that gay men are much more aware of their HIV status than they have been in the past. Importantly, HIV is now a largely preventable disease. There are good drugs that can dramatically reduce the viral load in blood, reducing the risk of transmission. The advent of PrEP as a HIV prevention has also reduced the risk for people with exposure to HIV.
I believe that the guidelines should be based on the latest evidence, and in light of medical advances, it is time the deferral period was reviewed, as it has been in other countries. France now allows gay men who have had only one partner in the past four months to contribute plasma-only donations. Their donation is then quarantined for