Researchers Argue Homosexuals Should be Allowed to Give Blood
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By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
OTTAWA, May 26, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Two Canadian researchers have published an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) saying that the federal ban on homosexual men donating blood is "outdated and discriminatory."
Mark Wainberg, director of the McGill University AIDS Centre at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital, and Dr. Norbert Gilmore argue in their article that it's time for the lifetime ban to be lifted. They say that the test to detect HIV in blood is much improved since the 1980s when the ban was first introduced, and that the ban was "hypocritical" because there are very few restrictions on heterosexual donors who may be sexually promiscuous.
"The science has advanced by hundreds of miles. Yet our policies are still in a time warp. Here we are 27 years later, still stuck with policies that are antiquated. And in our view these are policies that are not only discriminatory in regard to gay men but they are also policies that do not serve the Canadian blood system well because they result in far fewer blood donations," said Dr. Wainberg.
However, Ron Vezina, director of media relations at Canadian Blood Services, which tests all donated blood for HIV and other disease-causing organisms, said in media reports there would be no benefit to the blood supply by allowing homosexual men, still among the highest risk groups for HIV and other STD infections in Canada, to donate blood.
He added that many blood recipients don't want to see a change in policy that eliminates high risk groups from the pool of potential donors.
"As far as we're concerned, there's no evidence that's been introduced that suggests a change in policy wouldn't introduce incremental risk. We start off with the least risky donors and then we put them through the other processes for safety screening," Mr. Vezina said.
To Wainberg and Gilmore's argument that allowing homosexual men to donate would help alleviate blood shortages, Vezina said, "There hasn't been a blood shortage in Canada in recent history."