Refocus with Gerard Veldhoven
The blood donation issue I raised in my last column is not the only concern for gay men. The wish to be able to contribute to save lives and improve quality of health to Canadians is at the heart of this on-going attitude by Health Canada and the Canadian Blood Services. Organ donations are also included in the ban.
As a gay man I am not allowed to leave my organs to assist in saving lives, including my children and grandchildren. HIV/AIDS has been part of our lives for decades and was first diagnosed in 1982. This was an issue of great concern as family members, friends and all citizens of the world were dying at an alarming rate. No one seemed immune from contracting this disease that was of epidemic proportions.
Eventually, new medications and various precautions lessened the severity and spread of this horrendous disease.
As I mentioned in my last column, the Canadian Blood Services screen every blood donation thoroughly. Perhaps! Each organ donated is presumably screened as well. Therefore one may conclude that infected organs are then discarded.
HIV/AIDS is largely controlled through raising awareness and educating the public. Let us be aware that sexual activity is a natural practice of all human beings and so the risk should not be levelled only against men.
Men, women and children around the globe are involved and the HIV/AIDS virus does not discriminate. We are so fortunate that in Canada we have the opportunity to be of assistance to others by donating blood and organs. Millions around the world do not have this opportunity.
Health Canada and our lawmakers must address and reverse this horrendous situation immediately as this also has reverse affects on the emotional state of our gay men. Our well-being has already been in jeopardy since the beginning of time with homophobic and discrimination that we still face in many instances.
Let’s be clear that members of the LGBTQ community have faced tremendous hardships and this situation adds fuel to the fire. However, we are a determined lot and we will succeed in this venture also. By birth we are who and what we are, each one of us. Who would willingly place ourselves in situations where we are discriminated against in many ways and we all know and heard of horrific consequences that face the LGBTQ community.
Organ and blood donations must be accepted, otherwise this is blatant discrimination and that my friends, is against the law in Canada.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a long time activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in The Amherst News.