WATCH: Canadian Blood Services is encouraging sexually active gay men to donate blood in an upcoming special clinic. Jeremy Hunka reports.
A campaign is taking place this week to let sexually active gay men know they can donate their blood.
The “Rainbow Donor Clinic” is taking place on February 4 at netCAD, a Canadian Blood Services facility located at the University of British Columbia.
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Until 2013, any men who had sex with another man since 1977 was disallowed from donating blood. The policy then changed – but gay men are still only allow to give blood if they’ve abstained from sex in the last five years.
READ MORE: Canadian Blood Services survey looks at relaxing restrictions on gay donors
“There’s some upset feelings, there’s some resentment, there’s a lot of misunderstanding,” admits Chad Walters, who is organizing the clinic and open house. He was inspired to put the event together to raise awareness of the ways people like him could help save lives.
“This is the first of its kind. It’s really exciting, it’s a way of looking at an old issue from a new angle.”
netCAD will use the blood from everything from testing trials for new techniques, to researching cancer treatment.
“Many of these men are deferred from donating blood for transfusion, and they’re unaware they can donate blood for research, and that is equally important for the Canadian blood supply,” says Dr. Tanya Petraszko of Canadian Blood Services.