Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Carleton Pride ignites over organ donor ban for gay men

The following article is one of the many gay community's responses to a directive issued last summer by Health Canada, that formalized the long-standing and clinically accepted practice of labelling organs from the donor pool if they have come from a member of a group that is at high risk for serious blood-borne diseases. The risk groups identified in the document include prison inmates, recent recipients of tattoos or piercings, non-medical intravenous drug users, prostitutes, and men who have had sex with another man within the past five years.

Many countries have similar rules to protect the public. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. still bans men who have had sex with other men (MSM), even one time since 1977, from donating blood. This is for the simple reason that homosexuals as a group are at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and other infections that can be transmitted by infusion.

According to the FDA, which, by the way, is not a right-wing think tank, men who have had sex with men since 1977 have a risk of contracting HIV that is 60 times higher than the general population. Further, homosexuals are about 5-6 times more likely to be infected with the Hepatitis B virus than the general population.

As a lung transplant recipient and advocate for organ donation awareness, I thank our federal government for protecting us from diseases caused by high risk behavior.

Students lead charge against prejudicial rules

From Capital Xtra:
In the midst of Carleton University's (Ontario, Canada) Pride Week this year, students aren't at movie marathons or board game night. Rather, they've fanned across the campus, hitting main thoroughfares, residence buildings and big classrooms, armed with clipboards.

Volunteers gathered nearly 600 signatures in a two-day blitz, a campaign that will continue throughout the spring — and which is poised to go national.

The workshops, coffeehouses and perennial drag show haven't been cancelled. But new organ donor rules from the federal government — which prohibit men who've had sex with men in the last five years from giving their organs — have mobilized students in one of Carleton's most political Prides in years.

For Mike Wiseman, the coordinator of the Carleton GLBTQ Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the timing was perfect. The organ donor rules, which made national headlines in early January, had students talking. "As soon as the first news story broke, we were like, 'What the hell is going on here?'" says Wiseman. Wiseman and his queer centre cohorts already planned to protest Canadian Blood Services' lifetime ban on gay blood donors. But catching the wave of anger caused by the new rules, they swung into action. Read the full article.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance another 50 through tissue donation

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