OTTAWA, May 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Homosexual men who have not had sex with other men for five years are now eligible to donate blood to the Canadian Blood Services (CBS).
The organization revealed yesterday that it has received approval from Health Canada to exchange a lifetime ban on homosexuals donating blood for a deferral system.
While homosexual activists have slammed the deferral policy as discriminatory towards gay men, a senior Medical Advisor at Health Canada has defended the deferral period as a necessary precaution in protecting the blood supply from the risk of disease caused by MSM (men who have sex with men).
“Approximately half of new HIV cases in Canada are MSM. Seventy-five per cent of the males who are newly diagnosed with HIV are MSM”, said Health Canada’s Robert Cushman to Xtra yesterday. “This is a risk behaviour, not a sexual orientation policy”.
Cushman said that research shows that even men in a committed MSM relationship who use condoms present a greater risk of disease than promiscuous heterosexuals who engage in anal or vaginal sex without using condoms.
“MSM is a risky behaviour”, he stated. “There’s anatomical reasons. There’s a scientific explanation”.
“I think it would be remiss on our part not to concentrate on the two risk factors [MSM and injection drug users] that have the lion’s share of the burden of illness in the blood supply”, he said. “It would be equally unfair [to the public] to make this blood available [without a deferral] knowing what we do about the risk factors”.
Canada’s HIV numbers for MSM roughly correspond to U.S. numbers. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released an updated HIV report showing that 79 per cent of all HIV diagnoses in men occurred in the homosexual population. Only 12 percent of HIV cases occurred among heterosexual men.
Homosexual activist groups consulted by the CBS during the revision process indicated that abolishing sanctions against MSM giving blood was more about a “public matter of social injustice” than about allowing a small fraction of the population — estimated at 3.4 percent — to partake in the altruistic action of giving blood.
The groups included Winnipeg Pride, Options for Sexual Health, EGALE Canada, Trans* Needs Committee of Memorial University of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, and JersVision.org.
Egale Canada went as far as calling CBS’s former policy “intrinsically abhorrent to the fundamental Canadian values of equality and non-discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender”.
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Homosexual activists have campaigned for more than a decade to have the ban lifted.
“Our community should feel empowered knowing we forced CBS to even talk about changing this policy and we shouldn't let them look like they did this out of the goodness of their hearts when it took years of public pressure and collective action”, wrote Rebecca Rose, a homosexual activist who worked on the Canadian Federation of Students’ End the Ban campaign, on her Facebook wall.
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 previous blood prohibition had stated: “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”.
“The key problem is that, given the continuing STD epidemic among MSM, a new disease could be hiding. The risk is too great”, said Dale O’Leary to LifeSiteNews.com at that time.
O’Leary wrote in a 2010 piece of research titled Defending the blood supply that activists pushing for MSM men to donate blood have focused entirely on improved tests for HIV while ignoring other infectious blood-borne diseases epidemic in the GLBT population.
According to O’Leary these diseases include various forms of hepatitis, herpes, drug-resistant gonorrhea, cancer-causing human papilloma virus, cytomegalovirus, chlamydia, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and a host of other diseases.
O’Leary said a deferral period for MSM giving blood helps no one if an undocumented disease with a long incubation period is hiding in the blood or tissues, or if a well-known disease mutates into a form not recognized by current testing.
“Although testing for known pathogens has improved dramatically, current methods are not perfect and an increase in donations by MSM would increase the risk of infected blood reaching recipients”, she wrote.
Health Canada admits the point: No test is “100 percent accurate”, said Cushman to Xtra.
When Canadian Blood Services submitted its deferral plan for approval to Health Canada last November, CBS spokesman Ron Vezina said at that time that the organization’s first priority was 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”.