OTTAWA, May 22, 2013 /CNW/ - Announced this morning, Health Canada's changes to its blood screening policy, reducing the deferral period for men who have sex with men (MSM) from indefinite to five years, will have little impact on the majority of people discriminated against by the policy.
"This change fails to end the discrimination against queer and trans men inherent in this policy," said Adam Awad, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. "Health Canada is saying that gay and bisexual men are forbidden from having any sexual contact with other men for five years if they want to donate blood, but can have sex with as many women as they want in that period."
The deferral policy determines the conditions under which someone is prevented from donating blood. The change reduces the amount of time a man must abstain from sexual contact with another man from a lifetime to within five years. Established in 1985, the policy is based on outdated research and testing methods and ignores research done in the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, Portugal, and Italy that all found that this type of ban is unneeded to maintain the safety of the blood supply.
Health Canada has required Canadian Blood Services and HEMA-Québec to increase the quality and frequency of their reporting of pathogen detection in blood donations, but has been silent on whether additional funding would be provided to conduct research in Canada on this issue.
"Health Canada's recognition that this policy needs to be updated is important, but the change will have little meaning if it's not backed by funding for further research," said Awad. "The safety of Canada's blood supply should be based on research and screening for high-risk behaviours, not on outdated stereotypes and discrimination."
The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada's largest student organisation, uniting more than one-half million students in all ten provinces. The Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organisations have represented students in Canada since 1927.
SOURCE: Canadian Federation of Students
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