NDP says five-year ban on gay blood donations would still discriminate

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Canadian Blood Services has proposed lifting the lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have had sex with men.

But the New Democrats argue the organization's submitted solution, which would allow men who have abstained from sex with men for at least five years to donate, would still discriminate against gay men.

"New Democrats believe that criteria for donating blood for all Canadians should be developed on a behavior based model. The screening process for blood donation would be much safer overall in reducing the risk of transmission of blood borne diseases by focusing on each individuals’ behavior rather than their sexual identity," NDP MPs Libby Davies and Randall Garrison said in a statement posted online today (January 22).

"While this request from Canadian Blood Services is a step in the right direction, it continues to discriminate against a specific group of people. A five-year ban on the ability for gay men to donate blood is not science based and is still just as discriminatory as a lifetime ban."

In December 2012, Canadian Blood Services—along with Héma-Québec, its Quebec counterpart—recommended that Health Canada reduce the "lifetime deferral of MSM donors to a time-bound deferral of 5 years".

If Health Canada approves the proposal, the change could be put in place as early as the summer, according to a statement on the Canadian Blood Services website.

"We see this change as a first and prudent step in incremental change on this policy. It will be reviewed in the near future as additional data emerge and new technologies are implemented," Canadian Blood Services states.

Canadian Blood Services' donor questionnaire asks: "Male donors: Have you had sex with a man, even one time since 1977?" The current ban was introduced in 1988 by the Canadian Red Cross, which used to run the country's blood services.

In a July 2012 letter posted on the Canadian Blood Services site, Egale Canada executive director Helen Kennedy urged Health Canada to "favorably consider" a five-year ban even though it is "no less discriminatory than an indefinite deferral".

"While this move represents important progress in addressing one of Canada’s few remaining overtly discriminatory policies, it fails to fully correct the problem," Kennedy wrote to Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq.

Comments (5) Add New Comment
Dave L.
The latest stats I have seen indicate that "Gay Men" comprise some 46% of new infections, now I have to agree that discrimination is not a good thing in general in this case unfortunately it is.
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jo
I would really like to see where these latest stats come from!
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Marley Davis
As someone who has needed 2 blood transfusions in the past, and will likely require future ones, I am adamantly against gay men donating blood. Fully 50% of existing and new HIV cases occur in the gay male population-that is a fact. I don't want even a minutely increased risk of contracting HIV through a blood transfusion. I can't donate blood and you don't hear me screaming discrimination - there are sound medical reason for the ban.
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Steven K
Glad to see this ridiculous policy doesn't just exist in the States. The idea that a five year period of abstinence is a step in the right direction is unfathomable. Yeah, I'm gonna abstain from sex with my husband for five years so I can give you a pint of blood... I hope no one needs my O-.
Marley: If 50% of existing and new HIV cases are in gay men, what about the other 50%? THATS WHY THEY TEST BLOOD THAT IS DONATED! And please do cite your sources... your fact is most likely fiction. I'm guessing here, but if you are requiring blood transfusions, you probably have a medical condition stopping you from donating. That is quite different from a healthy (negative) gay male with full knowledge of his HIV status being turned away while a straight dude (or lady[and she might not even be straight], because they get it too) who is unaware they are infected can donate.
It is a discriminatory policy that is grasping to the super (and I mean way super super crazy super) outdated understanding of HIV as gay cancer. It is not about health, it is about fear and stereotypes...... and thats fucking wrong.
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Ava
Marley: do you prefer your blood donor in the closet? Because that is the only thing this questionnaire does: be yourself and be descriminated against - or hide within the huddled masses and be treated as an equal. In my opinion they have absolutely no right to ask my sexual preference - it's private, personal, and none of their business.
By the way all the arguments they are making have been said before; there was a time not that long ago and not that far away that blood from Black people was considered less worthy. Bigotry is the same no matter who it's directed to.
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