10.03.2006

No Queer blood here, thanks

Warning


This article will offend some readers

If you don't want my blood in an emergency, then push the back button on your browser now.


The South African National Blood Service has yielded to pressure in allowing some gay people to donate blood. Those that have been celibate for six months can give blood. South Africa where almost six million people have HIV/AIDS, gays make up a very small proportion of those numbers.

Still the blood service feels they are being reasonable in limiting blood donations from gays to those who haven't had any sex in six months. They have missed the whole point. No other population group is excluded from donating blood. In fact they recently changed the rules so that black blood can be mixed with white blood. Horror of horrors.

The decision in South Africa actually highlights the problems and the systemic discriminatory practice being applied around the world and here in Canada against gay men. The six month no sex and you can give blood rule is meant to ensure the gay man has been prescreened for HIV, a standard not applied to any other group.

The stupidity in this position is that all blood is screened for HIV and other diseases and viruses after it is collected. The wrong in it is that it implies all gay men, even those that practice safer sex, are too much a risk to accept their blood. Instead of using a more practical tool such as prescreening for unsafe sexual or drug injection activity, gay men are forbidden to donate.

I lived with my HIV positive partner for many years. I was HIV negative. Negative means I did not have HIV and positive means my partner had HIV. We had lots of sex, right up to the days before he passed away four years ago. I was tested for HIV every three months. Every test came back negative. Every test I have taken since my first one in 1990 has come back negative, even my last one just three weeks ago.

We practiced safer sex methods. In fact I am willing to bet that gay men use condoms more than any other group in society. 77% of us use condoms during sex according to surveys conducted in British Columbia. I would ask if there is any other group out there that can match that number. I seriously doubt it.

Yet despite the facts, hysteria and hypocrisy rules the day. In order to rebuild confidence in the safety of our blood supply gay men were vilified without any scientific basis to support such a ban. Gay men have been paying the price since. So have blood collection services.
Now a huge pool of perfectly good blood is left circulating in my body and others while hospitals are screaming for donations every long weekend and all summer long. "Warning only two days blood supply on hand." You have all heard these warnings.


I like to think of myself as a Canadian, that I actually contribute to making the community I live in a better place just because I am here. Most people think like that. The difference is you can feel that way and I and many other gay men who want to contribute when it’s needed are shunned.

Its time the Canadian Blood Services reversed their ban on gay men donating blood. Its time that we remove the barrier that prevents us from performing what is considered by many as a civic duty, and guess what, it would be perfectly safe to do so.

One good thing that has come out of the South African National Blood Service partial lifting of a complete ban on gay men donating blood is that it has finally exposed what a con job has been played on us all. I am expecting some Conservative holy terrors to take issue with what I wrote. Good. A spike in numbers is what I need to encourage me. I am doing what I set out to do, right Bruce?

I expect better here in Canada. Don't you....

P.S. I won't be committing to being celibate for six months in order to donate so forget that possibility, even if all of you agree to a rule that says anyone that has had sex in the last six months can't donate. There is only so much I am willing to give up.
P.S.S. I have been receiving emails from many readers for months and months now. Thank you for your kind comments yet even you in your hundreds of emails did not bring me back. Thanks to Bruce at Canuck Attitude for reminding me of why I started a blog in the first place. It’s good to be in the saddle again... If me being back is not good news blame Bruce or push the back button on your browser.


, , Politics, Lgbt, Current Events, Gay-rights, GLBT, Civil Rights, ,

This article is also posted on PEJ News where I have been a regular contributer in the past.

6 comments:

bruce said...

Oh right, it's all my fault now :)

Oh well, I've been faulted for far worse. Nice to see you back Rick.

Mike said...

Good to see you back Rick. now that you are in Ottawa, drop me a line and we'll have coffee.

Green Queen said...

Hey There Bro,
Nice to know that you are back.
Our blood services do screen for many things, most certainly for Hepatitus and HIV.
Thank you to everyone who has tried to donate their own lifeblood,only to have been turned away.
Maybe you need to orgainize your own bloodbank.
I have never been asked to be celibate for six months before donating blood, but then,I am not gay.
There are many out there in need of blood, if screened, who really want to live.
Some rules are just stupid, some people are just stupid, and stupid has no barriers. Every place has something that,or someone who, is stupid.
This comment might be considered stupid. I think that anyone who thinks my comment is stupid,is stupid.
Stupid, like beauty,is in the eyes of the beholder.
I think that the rich are stupid when they ignore the pleas of the poor.
I just like to use the word "STUPID". Just speaking it out loud sounds stupid.
Your everlovin' sister.

Rick Barnes said...

Wowser, I have a stupid sister! Just kidding. Well said maureen!

Chimera said...

You're back! Yeah, I know you said that, but I needed to say it myself, just to make it solid...

But you're living in Ottawa? Dude! For what act do you think you need pennance? Jeez...from the Eden of the country to the dungeon...

"In order to rebuild confidence in the safety of our blood supply gay men were vilified without any scientific basis to support such a ban."

Too true. And no matter what, this isn't going to change any time soon. Gay men having sex is one of the things that the law-makers can visualize (as opposed to addicts shooting up -- almost everyone has a hard time visualizing that), and it makes them shudder in fear that it could happen to them. They just plain don't think that gay men are not willingly committing suicide through unsafe sex. To them, if it's gay, it's bad, it's unsafe, and it comes with AIDS. Period.

But y'know...I'm not quite sure why you're fighting so hard to save people who don't want to even know and acknowledge that you exist as a decent person.

It's a little like trying to picture Lou Farakan wanting to save the life of Daryl Duke.

Rick barnes said...

you are too funny! I like people to see me as a person, and just once i wouldn't mind telling one of those bad guys after they have received some blood due to surgery that it is just possible they have some gay blood now. LOL.

maybe just maybe they will see how funny they really are.