Canadian Ban on Blood Donations From Gays Upheld

By admin

Originally published on Advocate.com March 08 2008 12:00 AM ET

Canada’s
two blood-collection agencies decided Thursday to uphold a
lifelong ban on donations from gay men, despite complaints
from two of Montreal’s leading experts on HIV
and AIDS, The Gazette of Montreal reported
Friday.

Héma-Quebéc and Canadian Blood Services said they
will uphold their current policies, even though they
admitted lifting the ban -- while maintaining certain
restrictions -- would not result in contamination of
the blood supply. After commissioning a report from
McLaughlin Centre for Population Health on effects of
lifting the ban, Canadian Blood Services officials
said they hadn’t been entirely convinced of the
ban’s uselessness.

“We
digested that report and decided that rather than change our
policy right away, we’re going to ask for more
research,” Anne Trueman, a public relations
official for the agency, told The Gazette.
“Our board just wasn’t satisfied that all the
science was in place" to guarantee blood safety.

Mark Wainberg and
Norbert Gilmore, of the McGill University AIDS Centre,
encouraged the Canadian agencies to model themselves after
those in Australia, where men can donate blood if they
have abstained from gay sex for 12 months.

Referencing the
study, Wainberg argued that lifting the ban would produce
one unit of contaminated blood every 18 years. And if the
ban were lifted, according to Gilmore’s
estimates, the Canadian blood supply would receive
136,000 more donations from gay men each year.

“The tests
have moved forward, but the policies of
Héma-Quebéc and the Canadian Blood Services
are in a time warp circa 1983,” Wainberg said at
a news conference. (The Advocate)