One year. That is how long homosexual men must wait to donate blood if they have had sex with another man. To donate stem cells or organs, it’s an even longer wait period of five years.
So why? Why must my chance to save a life be taken away from me by a rule set by Health Canada and Canadian Blood Services? The official reason as set by Health Canada is that since gay men statistically have a higher chance to contract HIV, there must be a buffer in place to assure no donation is accepted if the donor has HIV. I understand their intentions and agree that no person with HIV should be able to donate blood, organs or stem cells but there are several problems with the rule in place.
The first is that any person, regardless of gender or sexuality has a chance to contract HIV if their sexual partner is infected. In addition to this, every blood donation is already tested for the disease by Canadian Blood Services through NAT testing – thus, making the ban specifically against homosexual men discriminatory and futile.
Secondly, if a gay man is in a committed relationship with his partner and neither of the men have HIV then why are they still being banned? It is senseless that we are turning away disease-free gay men, when we are so desperate for donations, simply because of their actions in the bedroom.
Third, the fact that I and many others could not donate organs to a dying family member, bone marrow to a local cancer fighter or blood for a transfusion to someone from across the country even if we are a match, saddens me. My sexuality shouldn’t exclude me from trying to help.
Now I know many will not share this opinion with me and I respect that. However, for the many who do, please help me fight for my right and the right of thousands of HIV-free homosexual men in Canada to donate blood, organs and stem cells. I commend the efforts by the Canadian Blood Services in 2016 to reduce the eligibility period from five years to the current one year to donate blood but we have a long way to go.
Let me save lives.