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05th October 2023 18:16
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (18:16): (490)

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health, Minister Thomas. Blood plasma is life-saving and incredibly can be used in 18 different ways, helping combat brain disorders, fighting measles, stopping complications from liver disease and helping treat severe burns, to name a few. Unfortunately Australia’s plasma supply is often prone to shortages due to a lack of supply. There are many people who would be more than happy to roll up their sleeve and donate but they cannot because they continue to be discriminated against based on their sexuality and sexual history. When donating plasma, you must disclose whether you have engaged in ‘at-risk’ sexual activity in the past three months. At-risk activities are said to include a man who has had sex with another man, a person who has had sex with a man who may have had sex with another man, a sex worker, someone who has had sex with a sex worker and a person currently on PrEP for protection against HIV infection. These now archaic rules mean that there are men who have been in monogamous same-sex relationships for decades who cannot give plasma.

Lifeblood’s submission to remove sexual activity rules for plasma donation to the Therapeutic Goods Administration was approved in May this year. Conservative estimates by Lifeblood’s chief medical officer Jo Pink suggest that this may lead to an increase of 14,000 plasma donations from newly eligible donors. This decision was made based on scientific, epidemiological and clinical assessment. It recognises the excellent safety standards of Australia’s blood supply and donation practices. Now it is Victoria’s turn to get on board, as we as a state have legal responsibility for changing the donor questionnaire in our jurisdiction. So the action I seek is that the minister commits to this change and provides a timeline for the relevant adjustment of the donor questionnaire in Victoria, acknowledging the importance of access to plasma in our healthcare system and the ability to donate free from discrimination.

Written Answer
Received: 02 November 2023
Hon Mary-Anne Thomas MP
(Minister for Health, Minister for Health Infrastructure, Minister for Ambulance Services)

Australia has one of the safest blood systems in the world, and decisions on blood safety rules and related public policy are made by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. All Australian governments follow this advice, it being based on consideration of scientific information, data and evidence.

Lifeblood recently announced that anyone may donate plasma regardless of their sexual activity, providing that they meet other donor eligibility rules. This recent approval of the change in eligibility rules by the Therapeutic Goods Administration is welcomed and will support all Australians in accessing lifesaving treatments derived from plasma.

Victoria awaits notice from Lifeblood that the Therapeutics Goods Administration have approved associated changes required to activities by CSL Behring who process plasma into therapeutic products.  Once this advice is received, Victoria looks forward to supporting this development by changing the donor questionnaire.


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