Canada: Activists say blood reforms will still discriminate against gay men

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Canadian Blood Services’ proposed changes to blood donor eligibility do nothing to lessen discrimination against gay men, according to an HIV/AIDS awareness organisation.

Currently, any man that has sex with another man, even once, is prohibited from donating blood for life. But, if approved, Canadian Blood Services’ proposed changes will see the ban relaxed from life to a minimum of five years and a maximum of 10 years from the last relevant sexual contact.

However, according to the Calgary Herald, Susan Cress, executive director for the AIDS Calgary Awareness Association, said the reform wouldn’t decrease the stigmatisation of the male gay population.

“A relaxation on the ban I don’t think really takes us any step forward to equality or to good sound, evidence-based decision making,” Ms Cress said, pointing to the fact Canadian Blood Services already screens every blood donation for HIV.

In September 2011, England and Wales introduced a one-year deferral period, meaning that men who have not had gay sex in the last 12 months may donate blood.