Up until recently, the Canadian Blood Services (CBS), as mandated by its regulator, Health Canada, placed a lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with other men (MSM) anytime since the AIDS outbreak of 1977. This ban, termed the “MSM Deferral”, is part of CBS’ screening procedures, which are designed to identify a variety of behaviours and circumstances which are proposed to increase the risk to the safety of the blood supply.
In Spring 2013, however, this lifetime ban was amended and currently indicates that, as of Summer 2013 the lifetime ban will be changed to a five year ban. That is, if a man has not had sex with another man in the last 5 years and meets the other eligibility requirements, he will be able to donate blood.
Although this current amendment is a move to acknowledging the out-of-date lifetime ban, the current ban is still problematic because it does not take the use of protection in sexual activity the various risk levels of different types of sexual interaction, or the donor’s relationship status into account. It also fails to consider the substantial technological advancements in blood testing. It is because of these glaring omissions that we consider the ban on blood donation from the MSM community to be a discriminatory practice, based on outdated science and stereotypes of the queer population.
The Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian AIDS Society and EGALE continue to call on the Ministry of Health, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec to end what continues for many to be the lifetime ban on blood from men who have had sex with other men and base any deferral periods on behaviours, not demographics.
END THE BAN IN ACTION
The Nova Scotia Component celebrates its End the Ban campaign particularly during PRIDE Week. Join us in July for chalking, flyering, and dancing in the PRIDE Parade to raise awareness about the ban and promote support for the campaign to end it. If you are interested in getting involved in the End the Ban campaign, contact your local students’ union representative or email email@example.com.