Tuesday, March 17, 2009
My blood and organs are too gay for you, sorry you may die because of homophobia
In 1983 the Red Cross, who was governing blood donations in Canada until the Canadian Blood Service took over shortly thereafter, decided to prevent men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood (as well as organs). The rationale is that MSM have higher prevalence of HIV/AIDS and its merely a measure to protect people who receive blood and organs.
The problem though is there are many men who will not admit to having sex with other men; these men may then have sex with women who would then be just as exposed to HIV as the MSM man. It is common knowledge for social researchers that people are rarely truthful in reporting their sexual activities and preferences, its something that is very private and with homophobia (e.g. Canadian Blood Service) some people feel forced to keep their sexual orientation and activities private. Also, should a gay man decide to deny his homosexuality or ever having sex with another man, he could donate blood, although "illegally." It is a very flawed and homophobic system.
Recent advancements in technology have enabled HIV, other viruses, and diseases in blood to be detected within weeks, not months. Blood is immediately tested and held for an incubation period if there is ANY risk of HIV, other viruses, or diseases, after which they will become easily detectable. If blood regulating authorities can detect HIV, other viruses, or diseases, then there is really no reason to deny MSM.
The Red Cross in the United States does its own screening processes for blood which no longer includes a lifetime ban on "gay blood," but rather a one year period from the last act of intercourse with another man [correction/reword: the American Red Cross recommends this and wishes to follow it in their practices, see the website I found the information on]. They have even recommended the same to the Food and Drug Administration. However, the FDA and Canadian Blood Service who also accepts blood donations still maintains the life time ban.
Of course there has been much activism and protestation against these homophobic policies, but, we need to do more! If the Canadian Blood Service and FDA are allowed to discriminate against gay men/MSM then who else will be able to enact similar policies?
On a personal note, I simply feel heart broken that I may not be able to give my mom a part of my liver, she may need it soon.