Three Dollar Bill: A bloody disgrace

A bloody disgrace

If there is anybody who deserves to die of AIDS, it is the HIV-denialists who after 25 years of solid science still insist that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. Next thing you know they’re going to tell us the earth really is flat and the moon is a piece of cheese.

This would all be laughable if all this lunatic propaganda wasn’t dangerous. All these denials that HIV is the cause of AIDS do is encourage people to believe safer sex is meaningless.

But are we really all that dumb? Dumb enough to believe that unsafe sex with Mr. Drop-Dead Gorgeous won’t kill us?

"What more proof do people need that HIV is the cause of AIDS?" veteran Montreal gay activist Michael Hendricks told me this week. "Does Christ have to appear and they put their fingers in his bloody wounds? This is insanity!"

Tell that to the HIV-denialists who took up the cause of former World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison (48-3-1 with 42 knockouts) when Quebec’s Regie des Alcools, des Courses et des Jeux (RACJ) – the sport’s governing body in Quebec – denied him a license to box in SP Promotion’s February 25 card at the Pierre Charbonneau Centre. That’s because Morrison allegedly tested positive in 1996 for HIV and reportedly refused to take an HIV test before the RACJ.

That’s when the HIV-denialists went into overdrive.

In an op-ed piece in The Gazette headlined "Junk science and AIDS," Terry Michael, executive director of the Washington Centre for Politics & Journalism, wrote, "Regulating a sport that often draws blood, RACJ says Morrison must submit to a test much of the world wrongly believes indicates presence of a pathogenic virus, a string of genetic code in nucleic acid covered in protein."

But wait, there’s more.

"Thousands of us in the worldwide community of dissenters from the single pathogen theory of AIDS understand Tommy Morrison is really looking for more than a fight in Montreal," Michael concludes. "He is offering an important teaching moment to Quebecers, Canadians, and millions worldwide who are victims of the multi-billion dollar HIV-AIDS Industry.

"The HIV-AIDS story is complex. Many of us have devoted years of study to it, and have concluded there is not now and there never was a human immunodeficiency virus. We ask the world to reassess 27-year-old politicized junk science. Canadians can contribute to that fight for truth by opposing injustice being visited on an American athlete who should be allowed to enter a ring Feb. 25 without taking a test about nothing."

First of all, to my eye, a newspaper running this op-ed unchallenged would be like running an anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Muslim or anti-Jewish op-ed under the guise of reporting both sides of a story. Fortunately, in the days that followed, The Gazette ran op-ed rebuttals.

But in my mind, the damage was done. It’s like – and here I know I’m in the minority when I state this – I still do not believe gay men should donate blood.

Yes, by all means change the Hema-Quebec and Canadian Blood Services (CBS) questionnaire so that they ask us about unsafe sexual behaviour instead of whether or not we have had (gay) sex – even once – with another man since 1977.

But until we all start telling the truth when we fill in those forms before we donate blood, we risk tainting this country’s blood supply.

"The reasons I have reservations [about gay men donating blood] is because a lot of gay people are living with HIV," says Hendricks. "While it’s wonderful that we are being treated equally, giving blood is a privilege and not a civil right, and I don’t believe our blood-screening tests are 100 per cent perfect. If someone gets infected with HIV from a blood transfusion, we will be collectively blamed just like we were back in the 1980s."

CBS now reportedly believes a lifetime ban on gay men giving blood is obsolete and wants Health Canada to relax the rules.

"There have been lots of changes in the environment, lots of changes in testing [and] lots of changes on the international front," Lorna Tessier, CBS director of public relations told the Toronto star recently.

CBS is now apparently pushing Health Canada for a "one-year deferral" period for donors after they’ve had gay sex and is funding a $500,000 grant administered by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to look into the issue.

But until I am told that under this new system Canada’s blood-bank system will be 100 per cent safe (and is that really possible?), I will not support gay men donating blood. It would be tantamount to letting an HIV-positive boxer into the ring. Because if even one person gets HIV because each party has their eye on the prize, then we’d be just as guilty of negligence as all those lunatic HIV-denialists.

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Three Dollar Bill