July 2, 2013
'Have you ever had sex with a man, even once, ever since 1977?' Previously, you are permanently excluded from giving blood if you answer yes to this question.
Effective from July 22, 2013, Health Canada have approved the change in blood donation eligibility. If a man has not have sex with another men in the past 5 years, he will be eligible to donate blood.
Donating blood and tissues for organ transplant can inevitably save lives. However, pathogens of hepatitis, syphilis, HIV, malaria, and more can be transmitted in blood transfusions. Héma-Québec and Canadian Blood Services has laid strict regulations in ensuring safety and quality of the Canadian blood system. Upon preliminary screening, one is required to answer a long list of yes and no questions. People at high risk of transmissible diseases such as gay men, people who have spent at least 3 months in places where mad cow diseases has been found, and inmates are excluded from giving blood. Then, rigorous testing is performed to rule out donors who are infected.
As the restriction has been set on gay men but not lesbians, many LBGT organizations have criticized such policies as homophobic. To better understand the existing blood transfusion policies and scientific reasoning, CKUT's Lorraine Wong interviewed Dr. Marc Germain, Vice-President of Medical Affairs at Héma-Québec. He validated the medical reasoning for the 5-year window and clarified the 'gay male blood donor' controversy due to higher risk sexual behavior.
After all, we want to give the gift of life, but not to be a theft of somebody's life.
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