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Health Canada has given Canadian Blood Services the OK to let gay men donate starting next summer. But there’s a catch: In order to be eligible, the potential donor can’t have had sex with another man in the past five years.
The new regulations are a revision of the old policy under which gay men couldn’t donate blood if they’d had sex with another man “even once, since 1977,” according to a Canadian Blood Services news release.
While the updated policy is progressive compared to the United States’ lifetime ban on gay donors, it’s still more stringent than the regulations in some other countries. In both the U.K. and Australia, gay men are able to donate blood after one year of abstaining from having sex with other men.
“We recognize that many people will feel that this change does not go far enough, but given the history of the blood system in Canada, we see this as a first and prudent step forward on this policy,” said Dr. Dana Devine, vice-president of medical, scientific and research affairs at Canadian Blood Services in the news release. Last time we checked, urging gay men not to have sex with men (for five years!) if they want to donate still smells of, well, homophobia. While gay men remain the largest population at risk for contracting HIV, heterosexual populations are not exempt from risk, especially those men who don’t indentify as gay but still have sex with men.
[via the Toronto Star]
Josh Sherman is an intern at Toronto Standard. You can follow him on Twitter at @joshuaxsherman.