Terms of Reference

The Review Committee

A Review Committee will be created with a group of experts and a Chair. The Committee will comprise suitably qualified experts selected by the Chair and the Blood Service.

What the Committee will do

With an overall consideration of ensuring the ongoing safety of the Australian blood supply, the Committee will review and provide independent advice on whether it is appropriate to exclude donors based on their current and/or past sexual activity.

If exclusion based on current and/or past sexual activity is considered appropriate, recommend how these exclusions would be structured and the duration of any proposed deferral period.

Areas of Emphasis

Particular emphasis should be placed on:

  • The appropriateness of ongoing exclusion of men who have had sex with men and in particular:
    • Whether it is possible to define sexual activities that should result in exclusion from donation.
    • The level of protection afforded by regular condom use and whether this is sufficient to prevent the transmission of infection, (and so avoid exclusion).
    • Whether it is possible for the Blood Service to consistently apply a set of criteria which would identify donors who are at greater risk of acquiring blood-borne infection (than the wider population).
    • The appropriate period (if any) of any exclusion.
  • Consideration of the risks presented by heterosexual activity, including, regarding sexual activity with people living in or from geographic areas with high prevalence of HIV. 
  • The relative risk of male to female versus male to male sex.
  • The appropriateness of excluding current and former sex workers and the appropriate period of any exclusion.
  • Whether the potential for sexual transmission of a new or emerging disease should be considered when deferrals are applied.
  • Advice on the development of effective communication tools to improve overall compliance with the sexual activity-based donor criteria and to explain their ongoing use.

What the Committee will address:

In developing its recommendations the Review Committee will take into account:

  • Compliance with Australian legislation (Commonwealth, State and Territory) especially anti discriminatory legislation.
  • The obligation of the Blood Service to ensure that the blood and blood products provided to patients are as safe as reasonably achievable.
  • Regulations which oblige the Blood Service to conform to mandatory and non mandatory recognised international standards.
  • Ethical issues affecting both potential donors and recipients of blood and blood products.
  • The practicalities of implementing any recommendations in the ongoing operations of the Blood Service.

Full terms of reference are available here