Race back on blood testing debate table

South Africa's National Blood Service (SANBS) is once again under attack for its racial profiling of blood donors as a means of preventing the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS.

In a recent interview with the local Medical Journal, SANBS head Anthon Heyns maintained that this method was "the safest and best current known modus operandi" for collecting blood.

This was despite the national health ministry setting a September 2005 deadline for racial profiling of blood to end, after a 31 January deadline could not be met.

Reinforcing his stance on the old blood testing method, Heyns said the average risk of a black South African being HIV-positive was 100 percent greater than a white South African and, depending on the specific group, could be about 150 percent higher.

Meanwhile, the country's Human Rights Commission has accused the nation of being back to "that quagmire of grappling with race and society".