Donate on behalf of those who can’t. Become a Blood Surrogate or ask your allies to give for you. Together, we can show how much we have to give and end this stigmatizing policy once and for all.
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Egale works to improve the lives of LGBTQI2S people by informing policy, inspiring cultural change and promoting human rights through research, education and community engagement. In partnership with agency Sid Lee, through Sid Lee Collective, they launched this campaign to drive awareness and push for a change in policy, while encouraging blood donations.
In the 1980s, before the AIDS virus had been identified, the US set an indefinite period to any man who had sex with a man (even once), as they were observed to be in a particularly high-risk group for the virus. Shortly after, Canada did the same. The ban stuck until July 2013, when it was reduced to five years. In June 2016, the deferral was reduced to one year.
Source: Canadian Blood Services
The policy is stigmatizing. It perpetuates the stereotype that men who have sex with men (MSM) — gay, bisexual, trans — are prone to risky or reckless sexual behaviour.
While men who have sex with men (MSM) are in a higher risk group — MSM attributed to 48.8% of the HIV exposure category in 2014 — it’s not enough to justify the year-long abstinence requirement — which may as well be a lifetime ban. (in 2013/2014, 92.1% of non-virgin Canadians age 15 to 49 were sexually active in the last 12 months).
Any sweeping denial of a person because of their gender or sexual orientation is discrimination. Even a man who has been in a long-term monogamous sexual relationship with another man would be denied. A single man who hasn’t had sex for three months, who has tested negative for HIV and has had protected sex within the year with one or two partners (also HIV negative) still can’t donate blood.
Regardless of its discriminatory nature, the policy is outdated and unrepresentative of current testing effectiveness. Samples of all blood donations are tested and the window period between the time of infection and when the virus can be first detected has been reduced to about 9 days.
Even the waiting period required after getting a tattoo has been reduced to three months. Yet all MSM still need to wait a year after a sexual encounter before donating.
We need to screen based on risky sexual behaviour, without reference to sexual orientation or gender.