Save Lives: End behaviour based discrimination of MSM blood donation

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We call on the federal government of Canada, the Honourable Patty Hajdu - Minister of Health, Dr. Stephen Lucas - Deputy Minister, and the Canadian Blood Services to make changes to the policy Health Canada governs that discriminates against men who have sex with men (MSM) when donating blood!

We ask everyone involved in policy making to end the discrimination against MSM in any and all ways including:

  •  Lessen or abolish the 3 month abstinence period for blood donation for MSM 
  • Change blood testing to be performed once donated, and again after the 9 day "window period" (the period shortly after a person is infected with HIV, and is not detectable)
  • Health Canada to remove its discriminatory language that paints all MSM as HIV positive
  • Treat all blood donors equally regardless of gender of sexual diversity, HIV is not a MSM disease as HIV infections can occur in any individual regardless of their behaviour, sexually or otherwise

 

History of Discrimination against MSM: (all information below is from Canadian Blood Services website www.blood.ca

Mid 1980's: an introduction of donor criterion excluding all MSM (as of 1977) from blood donation

2010: in response to the challenge to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 2002 the Ontario Superior Court ruled the deferral criteria for MSM is not discriminatory because "it is based on health and safety considerations"

2013: changes to the derail period of indefinite exclusion of blood donator from MSM to a 5 year deferral since last sexual contact

2016: Health Canada approved Canadian Blood Services' approval from 5 year abstinence for MSM to 1 year

2019: Health Canada approved waiting period of MSM from 1 year to 3 months

These changes approved by Health Canada may be a step in the right direction. However, it is clear this policy is still prejudice against MSM. HIV is an infection that can happen to anyone. Therefore, why is it only MSM that are named in this policy? Since HIV is not just a MSM infection, would it not make sense that ALL sexually active persons should be treated the same and have the same waiting period? Or, why have a waiting period at all if blood is tested? Can changes be made to the testing process to include initial and then time sensitive testing to donated blood after the window period?

 

Bottom line:

Change needs to happen NOW. In reality what is being asked is to be treated equally when wanting to donate blood. Individuals donate blood to help save lives and should not be treated differently based on who they have sex with or their gender identity.

Resource for Further Information on the Policy:

https://www.blood.ca/en/blood/am-i-eligible/men-who-have-sex-men

 

* Disclaimer: I am a White presenting, Indigenous, bisexual woman. I do not claim to be the expert on this topic. However, I do not need to be a MSM to know this policy is discriminatory against an entire group of people and change needs to happen NOW.*