OTTAWA – While the pandemic COVID-19 continues to make people sick in Canada, the health authorities have begged the Canadians to give blood – all the Canadians, except the men who have had sex with other men, despite the commitment of the liberal party in 2015 to put an end to this prohibition.
Ndp mp Randall Garrison is part of a chorus of increasingly many to say that it is time that the prime minister Justin Trudeau honours his promises and lift the ban on blood gay in Canada.
The policy is discriminatory against gay and bisexual men, and fosters prejudice against gay men and transgender people, said Garrison.
“The ban perpetuates, in fact, homophobia and transphobia “, he said.
“The evidence is everywhere that this type of ban does that stigmatize people like me who live in a monogamous relationship for 20 years and who are not able to give blood. “
The policy of excluding men who have had sex with men from donating blood or plasma to the original a lifetime ban – was implemented in 1992 after thousands of Canadians were infected with HIV and hepatitis C by contaminated blood products.
The eligibility criteria of donors have changed since then, including last year when Health Canada approved the applications of the canadian blood services and Héma-Québec to reduce the deferral period for men who have sex with men from a year to three months. This is the period during which they must abstain from sexual relations with other men before you can give blood.
In the 2015 elections which have propelled to power, Trudeau is committed to eliminating the prohibition of blood gay. Since then, it has committed $ 3 million for research on the evolution of political donation based on behaviour.
He again promised to eliminate the ban in his election platform of 2019 and has been mandated by the minister of Health Patty Hajdu to do so in its letter of mandate delivery in December last year. No movement has yet been made.
Garrison has filed a motion in the House of commons this week calling for the government to lift the ban, arguing that it limits the blood donations necessary in the middle of the pandemic COVID-19. This is the second motion on this issue that he has filed. The first dates back to six years.
“They have shortages of blood, this week is national blood donors and canadian blood services has made the rounds of the media here in Victoria to implore people to make donations. And I say, here is a way to get more donations, you can lift this ban, ” said Garrison.
In response to the pandemic, canadian blood services has also encouraged people who have recovered from the COVID-19 to give plasma for a national clinical trial to test the effectiveness of the plasma convalescent COVID-19 as a possible treatment of the virus.
The prohibition of the blood gai also extends to these donations of plasma COVID-19.
“The researchers say that there really is a shortage of donations of plasma from COVID recovered (patients) and you may be able to increase supply by lifting the prohibition,” explained Garrison.
Trudeau said Friday that he recognized the need to put an end to the ban on blood donations – a policy which, according to him, has long been discriminatory.
The changes must be anchored in science, he said, adding that a large part of this scientific research has already been carried out and alluded to “good things” on the horizon.
“From the beginning of our input function, we have made significant changes to shorten the waiting time, but they were still unacceptable. This is why we have provided funding to the canadian blood services and Hema-Quebec to carry out the necessary studies to be able to introduce new protocols and we hope that we can announce the results and the change very soon. ”
Nathan Lachowsky, director of research at the Centre for community based research of Vancouver, was part of those who conduct some of the research funded by Ottawa, including examining some of the key gaps in evidence that exist when it comes to change this policy.
This includes research on the number of men in the gay community who would actually in the blood if they were eligible and the extent of the possible levels of HIV infections undiagnosed in order to determine the likelihood that the HIV can enter the blood supply if the people were newly allowed to give.
He also noted that many countries around the world are passed to an evaluation, not gender-based and behavior-based blood donors, including in France where people of any sex who have many sexual partners are deferred from blood donation.
“There are good international examples of policies much better, and non-discriminatory that we could put in place in Canada, so what we’re trying to do as researchers is to build this database as much as possible,” said Lachowsky, assistant professor. at the School of public health and social policy at the University of Victoria.
Its research centre has published a policy document with a list of recommendations for the government, including a call to adopt a process of selection of donors, non-sexist, where people are selected in the same way regardless of the sex assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, or gender orientation.
When asked why the prohibition of blood-gai remains in effect in Canada, the chief administrator of the public health agency of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam, said this week that it should be considered on an ongoing basis.
“There must be an ongoing review of the science, we need to continue to review this policy,” she said during a press conference in Ottawa.
On its website, the canadian blood services indicates that the carry-forward period of three months is coming “as an additional step” towards the modification of the criteria.
“Since then, the work continues to evolve, eligibility criteria based on the latest scientific evidence, as well as new developments and research on alternative methods of screening. “
This report from The canadian Press has been published for the first time on June 13, 2020.
Teresa Wright, The canadian Press