Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Blood. It's in you to give... unless you're gay."

I'd like to draw your attention to this post by Rick Barnes at Queer Thoughts, and a related commentary at Canuck Attitude. Both posts refer to the policy of Canadian Blood Services of refusing to accept blood donations from any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, on the basis that any gay sex is a high risk activity for HIV. This prohibition exists despite the fact that all donated blood is screened for HIV.

My husband used to write articles about this when he was a student journalist, and raised a number of the same points that Rick Barnes has in his very well-crafted post. It's incredibly frustrating to have to watch endless commercials imploring me to give blood, filled with images of dying children, when I am automatically discounted from eligibility on the basis of my sexual orientation, rather than taking into account my sexual habits, the number of sexual partners I have had, or the degree to which I practice safe sex.

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At 3:35 pm, Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Yeah, this has always bothered me, too. It's discriminatory *and* illogical, and that combination always makes me crazy!

At 4:50 pm, Anonymous Radical Centrist said...

It's not the only ban tho - i spent a year in the UK as an exchange student in the early 1980s and i'm banned from giving blood here because of that (mad cow).

At 5:01 pm, Blogger Matt said...


You're right, and there are a number of other bans as well. A friend of mine who did graduate work in France is banned for the same reason.

What is particularly grating about the ban on gay men is the all-encompassing nature of the ban, which makes no reference at all to high risk activity. If, for example, I was a woman who had sex with a different man every night for a year, this would somehow leave me considered less categorically "high risk" for HIV infection than if I were a man who had received a blow job once in my life from another man.

For a gay man (and I imagine for people who have spent time in UK/France or Africa), every time you see one of those guilt-trip insipiring commericals, it's like a slap in the face.


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