Petition pushes for Canadian Blood Services to #EndTheBan on male donors who have sex with men

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      In 2013, Health Canada moved to lift a controversial ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with men.

      But there's still a ban on male donors who have been sexually active with men in the past five years.

      The Canadian Blood Services website offers an official explanation for the "five-year deferral period" applying to men who have sex with men:

      MSM account for the largest proportion of new HIV infections reported in Canada. For this reason, this group may be at higher risk for emerging infectious diseases that may be transmissible by blood transfusion. A five-year deferral period, which allows time to identify new or emerging infectious diseases and take appropriate action, was chosen as a prudent first step in updating Canada’s donor eligibility criteria for MSM.

      Now the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion has launched a video and petition seeking to end the ban on men who have sex with men all together.

      The page for the petition, which is addressed to Dr. Graham D. Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services, makes the point that there is "no such thing as gay blood". It also states:

      Canada’s ban on male donors whose sexual partners are also male, dates back to the mid 1980s — a time when AIDS was rapidly emerging as a deadly, incurable threat. The gay community was in crisis, and no HIV testing procedures for blood donations were in place yet. At the time, a sweeping ban made sense, but a lot has changed since then. Today, every donation given at Canadian Blood Services is thoroughly tested for pathogens, including HIV.

      In 2013, CBS took a first step towards lifting the ban, allowing males who had been abstinent from sex with other men for a minimum of five years to donate. Although this was a step in the right direction, it only applies to a fraction of the potential donors.

      According to the centre, an estimated 369,000 Canadian men who have sex with men remain banned from donated blood.

      Canadian Blood Services has two clinics in Vancouver.