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Jun24

Only abstinent gay men may give blood

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // Gay Men, Health, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Revolving Door, Guest Authors

Guest writer Joe Lethbridge says “This is about roadblocks and adding more stigma to an already stigmatized group of people.”

Only abstinent gay men may give blood

Background: TORONTO – CBC reports Canada is lifting a nearly 30-year-old ban on gay men giving blood, though for the time being only those who are abstinent will be allowed to donate. 

The new policy, which Canadian Blood Services hopes to have in place by mid-summer, will allow men to donate blood if they haven't had sex with another man for five years before the donation. 

Joe Lethbridge says

This is a subject close to my heart.

This is not about politicians and politics. This is about roadblocks and adding more stigma to an already stigmatized group of people  

When I see children fighting for their lives in hospital beds such as Katie Star Herron who has fought cancer for the six years of her life, or others awaiting marrow donor matches or blood for transfusions it pisses me off that a whole group of people are unable to try to help.

I don't usually break society into groups or communities but in this case it is exactly that. It in essence is profiling people. If we were to exclude another sector it would likely be looked at as "racial profiling"

A gay man must be shown to have been celibate for a period of five years before even being considered to be a donor. How is this to be proved? On a verbal statement?

While this is better than 20 years ago, when the Red Cross banned all gay donations based on the epidemic number of HIV and AIDS cases, is this going far enough ?

If media promotes the slogan"it is in us to give" how can those who want to give, give?

It seems to amount to this: gays are perceived to be prone to HIV or will develop it or are more promiscuous and as such, perceived as a danger to public health! That logic is outdated and illogical.  

ALL donations should be rigorously tested, not screened out by saying “no” to gay men who may want to donate.

What about people who use injection drugs? Those who are promiscuous and don't even know their own HIV status?

I know HIV is still around. But it is not a health issue just for gays. It is a health issue for all. Why then, should some of us who wish to help be held back from doing so. I don't believe in segregation and I don't want to be segregated or an outcast.

While giving blood may not be considered a right, for many people who can and do donate it is a privilege to be able to do so. I want to be afforded that same privilege as anyone.

This isn't about politics or politicians or even gay rights. It is about health and about insisting there are many gays who are healthy who want to be able to help.

Just like anyone else.