Canada bans gay men from donating vital organs

Dylan Vox | January 14, 2008

MONTREAL — Last year, the United States Federal Food and Drug Administration up held a blanket ban on men who have sex with men from donating blood so as to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. This week, the Canadian Health Ministry followed suit and has included an extra provision that would forbid organ donations as well.

Health Canada formalized legislation this month that would prevent men who have had sex with other men in the last five years from donating vital organs.

“The intent of the guidelines is to prevent communicable disease being transmitted from a potential donor to potential organ recipients," Bill Wall, head of the multi-organ transplant program at London Health Sciences Centre, explained to the Canadian Broadcast Company.

Wall also said that the new regulations, which are similar to the guidelines about blood donations in Canada, are aimed at risky behavior, not individuals, yet the ban focuses solely on the sexual activity of men with other men rather than sexual promiscuity.

Gary Levy, director of the multi-organ transplant program for the University Health Network in Toronto, criticizes the new rules for targeting gay men and says that the ban is unfounded and improper.

"In the past, the gay community was considered a high-risk community because of a perception of high-risk behavior," Levy explained to the National Post. "We now know it's not a homogeneous community. The fact is, if someone has 62 partners, whether its heterosexual or homosexual, there still is a risk."

The new restrictions also limit drug addicts, prisoners, prostitutes and people who have had tattoos or body piercings in the last 12 months using shared needles from donating blood or organs.

Levy explained to the Canadian Broadcast Company that currently there are over 4,000 people in Canada on the transplant waiting list. With the new regulations in place, about 7 out of every 100 prospective donors would be turned away. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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