Monday, January 7, 2008

I guess I might as well rip up my Organ Donor card now...

For the record, I am not HIV-positive. I've never engaged in any sexual activity that would put me at risk of becoming HIV-positive. I don't take risks, I'm rather fond of being alive. Despite this, I've been tested for HIV just to be sure, and have always come up negative. I've been with one partner for the last 2.5 years, have never cheated and never will.

That's why this announcement from the Harper government banning gay men from donating organs is truly disgusting. I wonder what John Baird and other gay Tories think about it.

The policy is reminiscent of Canada Blood Services' similar ban on sexually-active gay men and others from donating blood.

The big difference, of course, is Canada Blood Services conducts its screening on living people. Potential blood donors must answer questions before donating. If a man answers 'Yes' to the question asking if he has had sex with another man, even once, since 1977, he is disallowed from donating blood. The answer, coming from the would-be donor, is credible.

How will Health Canada, hospitals and other organ donation officials screen out gay men from donating organs after they die?

The explanation thus far is absolutely pathetic and stupid!

Transplant Manitoba, which procures organs in that province, says transplant programs must now by law interview family members of the donor as part of screening potential donors.

"We'll be asking about things like travel, history of infectious disease, whether they've [donors] been in jail — that puts you at increased risk," says Dr. Peter Nickerson, director of Transplant Manitoba. "Have they been an IV drug abuser in the past? Have they had tattoos? There's a whole list of questions we go through."

As well, they will be asked about the donor's sexual orientation. The donor will be excluded if the donor is a man who had sex with another man in the previous five years.

What happens if the family doesn't know about the man's sexual orientation? What if the family isn't willing to admit to a health official that their son was gay? How can the family answer if their son has had sex with a man in the past five years versus the past six years?

Why are men who have had sex with another man in the previous five years excluded? If it's been six years since you had sex with another man, why are your organs so special and acceptable?

This policy is shoddy, full-of-holes and can't stand up under serious scrutiny. It's stupid and blatantly discriminatory. I foresee a human rights lawsuit coming on.

My organs are as safe as any heterosexual's. This policy is absolute bullshit! Chalk this policy up as yet another despicable attempt by the Harper government to further insinuate that gay men are somehow inherently unhealthy, regardless of behaviour and life choices.


Joseph said...

Ah, but you miss the point. What better way to begin to rebuild those walls between homosexuals and heterosexuals then to find any public policy arena you can to have "separate" rules.

You've got to start somewhere if you want to establish a pattern of why the "greater good" is better off by having separate rules. And what better way to hint that gays are inherently "dangerous" to society.

That's the really sick part about this.

wilson said...

This is likely fall out from the Hep C disaster.
Many lives were affected/lost.
Any safeguards Health Canada takes in protecting lives is a good move.
My daughter, now 21, had to be tested for hep C as she was a preemie and had 8 blood transfusions. Waiting for the results was very scary. We were one of the lucky ones.
Had she tested positive, she'd be in her daying days instead of attending university.

I'm a smoker, can't donate my lungs or heart, should I be mad?

(c) 2008 - Matt Guerin said...

Wilson, the issue is simply not the same. Canada Blood Services bans all sexually active gay men since the onset of AIDS from donating blood for life.

Health Canada has known about this issue since the 1980s and only now with Harper in power has decided to act on organ donations? Yet instead of banning all gay men period from donating organs after death, they will allow men who haven't had sex within the last five years before their deaths to donate.

How can this be determined? Who can verify a man's sex life after he's dead? The answer - no one. This policy is stupid and makes no sense. If Hep C or HIV is an issue due to behaviour, then why the five year rule? It is arbitrary and serves no public health purpose. This is just an attempt by the Harper government to find another way to attack the dignity of gay men by portraying them as a health hazard. The same old, evil, soc-con approach to homosexuality. Not only is our blood poison, but all of our body parts are now too. I can picture Stockwell Day and Grant Hill smiling about this new policy, their hearts full of pure hate.

If you've smoked all your life, you've damaged your heart and lungs and yes should not be able to donate them. If the government arbitrarily decided that the rest of your body and your blood was somehow also too diseased to be donated because it assumes all smokers must abuse the rest of their bodies as well (because you obviously don't care about your body and we're just playing it safe), would you then be mad? If your daughter needed another blood transfusion and the government arbitrarily decided that you can't donate to her despite having the perfect blood type, would you be mad? Oh well at your daughter is safe from your likely poisoned blood.

The five year rule renders this whole policy completely useless. It doesn't protect anybody from Hep C or HIV, which live longer than 5 years in a person's body if infected as we know. If not, then why the lifetime ban for donating blood but not organs? The danger isn't gone in five years, so why this specification? Just to stigmatize gay men further. They couldn't get rid of same sex marriage, so they found another way to stick it to the gay community, one that didn't need to pass in the House.

Joseph said...

Wilson, first I want to say I am so relieved to hear your daughter and your family was spared that horrible consequence. That would have been horribly tragic.

This I'm sure is the case that prompted this change, just because the timing would make sense. It came to light just in November.

I think it is important to realize that this is the first instance in over 20 years of any instance of HIV transmission through an organ donation. And in this case, it sounds like more a problem of screening than homosexuality.

It is knee-jerk reaction and bad policy to eliminate an entire segment of population for desperately needed organs. The focus should be on screening for activity. I was frankly offended that Health Canada's only statement on the matter (in writing since they wouldn't provide a person to speak) essentially equated "being gay" with IV drug abuse and prostitution.

That is what convinces me that this is all about carving out a "separate" policy for gays and straights in a public area and not about advancing the safety or availability of donor organs.

With blood donation, which the Red Cross has even suggested the blanket ban on gays should be dropped and instead focus on risk activities, Health Canada made the same type of blanket, condemning statement.

The message is "gays are inherently dangerous" not that they are making rational decisions to advance the health of Canadians.

BC WaterBoy said...

I smell a huge rat on this one. The comment about "lifestyles" is a give away that this policy is somehow influenced by religious right hate groups. As well all should be aware, behind the scenes, lobby gay hating groups like Focus on the Family are extremely active in this government. I would like to know the process in developing this policy, who influenced it, and who approved it. I would not be shocked if this is totally based on influence from those hate groups. We need to be completely aware that this neo-con government hates us with a passion and if they can't stick it to us through marriage, they will find other avenues, this is most certainly one of them. The obvious here is that the closet plays such a huge role, they will never in a million years get the truth about sexual encounters from hetero marriage closet cases.