Mexico has officially lifted its ban on gay blood donation, making it the first country in North America to accept blood donations from gay men.
The ban lifting took effect on December 25, 2012, after a new health form was first approved in August and was published in Mexico’s regulatory Official Federation Diary October 26 last year. It has put an end to the two-decade ban on blood donations from homosexual men.
According to Blabbeando, the old norm (NOM 003-SSA2) banned gay and bisexual men from giving blood because of their sexual practices and they more likely to acquire HIV or hepatitis infection.
But the new norm (NOM 253) will now screen blood donors based on medical criteria and not on a donor’s sexual orientation. The donors will be asked about their sexual history and not their sexual orientation, which gives way for gay men to give blood provided they practice safe sex and have not tested positive for Hepatitis and HIV. People who engage in “risky sexual practices” regardless of their sexual identity are banned from donating blood.
In the new blood donor norms, you are considered to have “risky sexual practices” when you have:
“…made contact or exchange of blood, sexual secretions or other bodily secretions between someone who might have a transmittable disease and areas of another person’s body through which an infectious agent might be able to penetrate.”
The ban for gay blood donations started around the 80s during the HIV/AIDS outbreak since more gay men were affected by the virus. Finally, years of protesting against this discrimination from the LGBT community can’t be ignored anymore. Some countries finally lifted the longstanding ban that now enables gay men to give blood under certain restrictions. The United Kingdom and China have earlier lifted its ban on homosexual blood donations and other countries in America like the United States, Chile, Colombia and Argentina have been studying about lifting the ban, too.
Up north from Mexico, the Canadian Blood Services wants to alter its long-standing policy and allow gay men to give blood provided they haven’t had sex with a man in the last five years. This would make a better rule for gay men than not being able to donate at all, but few experts think lifting the ban would do no harm.
Susan Cress, executive director of AIDS Calgary Awareness Association, insisted that the ban should be dropped completely because a five year ban doesn’t guarantee any safety benefits.”The evidence clearly shows decreasing the ban just to five years provides no increased safety for the blood services supply and in fact still contributes to stereotyping of HIV transmission in the country,” she added.
Kristopher Wells, a researcher at the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies at the University of Alberta said that the ban is disappointing and makes him feel like he’s a second class citizen in his own country. “Doesn’t matter whose blood it is, when you need blood, there should be blood available,” Wells said.
However, no matter how loud the clamor is, Canadian Blood Services believes that lifting the ban so soon would not be a good idea. Dana Devine, Vice-president of medical, scientific and research affairs, explained that they don’t have enough evidence to convince Health Canada and the recipients of blood products that gay blood donation is safe at the moment.
For now, Mexico is the latest country to join UK, China, Australia, France, Spain, Japan and New Zealand in the list of nations that has lifted its lifelong ban on homosexuals to give blood. We do hope that in the coming months, more countries will have its stand on this matter in order for eligible gay men to be able to give a gift of life.