Gord Tanner, RyeSAC VP.

Red Cross rejects gay men’s blood

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By Shi Davidi

The Red Cross is desperate for blood — but not from gay males.

This has RyeSAC discussing banning the agency from campus and planning information pickets to bring attention to the Red Cross’ policy.

The policy states that gay males’ blood must be rejected because “men who have had sex with other men are at increased risk for HIV/AIDS.

“In Canada, approximately 75 per cent of reported AIDS cases since the beginning of the epidemic have been traced to transmission from one male to another during a variety of forms of sexual contact.”

In the questionnaire all donors must fill out, question 16 askes male donors: “Have you had sex with a man, even one time since 1997?”

Gord Tanner, RyeSAC’s VP education, is a gay male and doesn’t agree his blood should be rejected.

“They’re having a shortage of blood and they’re turning me away,” he said. “Why? Because my blood is unsafe? No, because I’m a gay male. It’s blatantly homophobic.”

Tanner said the questionnaire is unfair because of the way it singles out gay men. Anyone practicing unsafe sexual activity, gay or straight, are at more risk than two gay men practicing safe sex, he added.

The Red Cross said in a statement their questionnaire is “designed to protect the blood supply against the ‘Window Period,’ the time during which a donor could be infected but still test negative on the blood screening tests.”

The Canadian Federation of Students has already written a letter to Health Minister Allan Rock protesting the policy. Carleton University’s Students’ Association recently banned Red Cross from campus because of the policy.

The Red Cross also rejects blood from prostitutes and intravenous drug users.

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