Canada poised to partially lift ban on gay men giving blood
OTTAWA, Ontario, November 28, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canadian Blood Services (CBS) has revealed that it is about to exchange the lifetime ban on homosexuals donating blood for a deferral system. According to a plan submitted to Health Canada, men who have not had sex with other men for somewhere between five to ten years would be eligible to donate.
CBS spokesman Ron Vezina told the Edmonton Journal that the organization is convinced that it has sufficient evidence to support a change from a permanent prohibition to a deferral.
Canadian Red Cross had put the ban in place in 1983 after thousands of Canadians were infected with HIV and hepatitis C from contaminated blood. Criminal charges were laid against several doctors, blood products companies, and the Canadian Red Cross.
The current blood prohibition states: “All men who have had sex with another man, even once, since 1977 are indefinitely deferred. This is based on current scientific knowledge and statistical information that shows that men who have had sex with other men are at greater risk for HIV/AIDS infection than other people.”
Homosexual activists have been campaigning for more than a decade to have the ban lifted calling the prohibition against homosexuals donating “discriminatory.”
“This ban is discriminatory toward men who have sex with men, but it also continues to mislead the public into thinking that [homosexual activity is] the only transmission of HIV,” said Laura Keegan, spokesperson for HIV Edmonton, to the Edmonton Journal.
But the science that looks at rates of disease and infection in a population does not discriminate.
The Public Health Agency of Canada reported in 2008 that homosexual men as a group had by far the highest rate of new HIV infections, 44%, and that 51% of people with HIV in the country were homosexual men. In 2006 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. found that approximately 53% of new HIV cases are in homosexual men, even though they only make up a tiny percentage of the overall population. A 2009 CDC report found that the rate of AIDS is 50 times higher among American homosexual men than in the rest of the population.
The CBS ban on homosexuals donating blood hit the limelight in 2010 after the organization sued homosexual Kyle Freeman for lying about his homosexual conduct in a pre-screening process and giving blood despite the lifetime ban. Freeman counter-sued arguing that the CBS ban discriminated against homosexuals and their right to give blood under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
An Ontario Superior Court of Justice upheld the CSB ban in 2010, ruling that giving blood is not a constitutional right.
The judge ruled at that time that the ban is “based on health and safety considerations; namely, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne, sexually transmitted pathogens in the [men who have sex with men] populations, and the corresponding risk this creates for the safety of the blood supply system.” The court also noted that the Charter of Rights does not apply to the blood agency’s policies, because it is not a government entity.
Freeman, who had lied 18 times to donate blood, was found later to be infected with syphilis and gonorrhea.
Meanwhile, a year’s supply of blood products from Regina were voluntarily recalled and destroyed by the CBS last month after it learned that blood donated could be tainted after donors were not properly screened. CBS staff had failed to ask donors oral questions relating to “sexual practices”.
If Canada lifts the ban, it will join the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan in allowing blood donations from men who have sex with other men.
CBS spokesman Vezina pointed out that despite CBS’s immanent plans to allow homosexuals to donate blood, the organization’s first priority is to manage the safety of the country’s blood system.
“We have to remember that the recipients who are infused with blood products bear 100 per cent of the risk,” he said.
“Given the history of the blood system, we have to make sure that whatever we’re doing is prudent, and not being done exclusively for the sake of political correctness.”
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Canadian Blood Services
1800 Alta Vista Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 4J5
Ph: (613) 739-2300
Address Locator 0900C2
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9
Toll free: 1-866-225-0709
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