MORE BLACKS DONATE BLOOD

The number of black blood donors has increased over the past four years, though less than one percent of the population donate blood, the South African National Blood Service has said.

The number of black blood donors has increased over the past four years, though less than one percent of the population donate blood, the South African National Blood Service has said.

Black donors now make up 20percent of the people who give blood compared with six percent in 2005. This is equal to 60000 out of 300000 blood donors, said SANBS chief operating officer Ravi Reddy.

"It is challenging getting people to donate blood on a regular basis," Reddy said.

He said the SANBS encouraged donors to give blood at least three times a year or once every 56 days.

He said "active recruitment" in black communities had contributed to the increase in the number of black blood donors.

Reddy also confirmed that the rejection of blood from black people because they were considered to be at "high risk" of carrying HIV had contributed to reluctance to give blood.

He said this practice was stopped in 2004.

He said the SANBS, however, did not accept blood from men who have had sex with other men six months before donating blood.

He said this was because sex between men was still considered high risk sexual behaviour.

Reddy said South Africa was "progressive" in this regard because in other countries men who have had sex with other men were banned for life from donating blood.

The 900000 units of blood collected by the SANBS every year are tested for diseases such as HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and C before it is used on patients with various ailments such as cancer, anaemia and accident survivors.

About 3000 units of blood are needed daily.

Reddy said misconceptions people had, such as fears that they would become weak or contract diseases, made potential donors reluctant to give blood.

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