Héma-Québec stops discriminatory evaluation against homosexual men
As of December 4, Héma-Québec will end a blood donation eligibility evaluation procedure discriminating against homosexual men in particular.
Rather than determining a man's eligibility to donate blood by his belonging to a certain group considered to be at risk, it will be a personalized evaluation of the person's behavior that will determine if she can donate blood.
Currently, the organization systematically refuses blood donations from men who have had sex with another man in the last three months. This is a relaxed form in 2019 of an old regulation dating from 1992.
The HIV crisis
In 1992, the regulation that had just been introduced took the form of a systematic refusal of blood donation by homosexual men. This is a regulation that comes in response to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) crisis which was spreading particularly among men who have sex with men. The goal was to avoid having blood contaminated with HIV in the reserves intended for people in need of transfusions.
Considering that it is anal sex that represents a risk and not male homosexuality , as reported in a scientific review by the Canadian Public Health Agency of Canada, several groups and individuals have criticized the stigmatizing and discriminatory aspect of these regulations.
A first relaxation was introduced in 2015, when Canada now asks male donors not to have had sex with another man in the past five years. In 2019, this abstinence is requested for the last three years.
By breaking with the old method of evaluation based on belonging to a sexual orientation, the change in the method of evaluation, which will take shape on December 4 at Héma-Québec, will better reflect our nuanced scientific understanding of the spread of HIV.
The new way of doing things will also allow more people to donate blood, which should increase blood supplies in addition to ceasing to contribute to the stigmatization of an oppressed group.
This new method of assessment based on a personalized assessment of a person's sexual behavior is already applied in some countries, especially in the United Kingdom.