A physician who works with Canadian Blood Services stood by a controversial policy at a panel discussion tied to St. John's gay pride celebrations.

Canadian Blood Services prohibits donations from gay men, in a policy that dates back to 1983 - long before the tainted blood scandal that rocked the Red Cross, which used to manage the service, and led to the formation of CBS in the first place.

Dr. Karl Misik, attending a St. John's Pride Week panel for three years in a row, said Canadian Blood Services is sticking by a policy of protecting the blood supply from HIV.

"The issue really is one of great concern to all of you — men having sex with men, and that's the key issue that brings us back here every year," Misik said.

While Misik said the policy is about limiting risk of exposure to HIV and not a value judgment.

But an audience member asked Misik how Canadian Blood Services can be sure that gay men aren't giving blood anyway, in spite of the rules.

"What would happen in that case … because it might happen," a woman told Misik.

"Well, we are asking the Canadian community of donors to be honest," Misik said.

Misik told the forum it would take significant new research for Canadian Blood Services to consider reversing the policy.