Blood service recommends ending ban on gay men donating blood
Health Canada expected to respond to Canadian Blood Services recommendation by spring
Canadian Blood Services on Wednesday recommended an end to the ban on sexually active gay men donating blood in a submission to Health Canada.
It submitted a proposal, backed by research, suggesting that screening focus on high-risk behaviour — including having multiple sexual partners — by all donors instead.
Federal ministers, including the prime minister, have said they want to speed up an end to the gay blood ban, and Health Canada is expected to respond to the blood-service recommendation by the spring.
Currently, men can only give blood if it has been more than three months since their last sexual contact with a man.
The blood service said its goal is to stop asking men if they have had sex with another man.
Change poses no safety risk
It says research it has conducted, as well as evidence from abroad, shows the change would pose no safety risk to the blood supply.
Health Canada must approve the recommendation before it can be implemented.
The blood service has suggested that the new screening questions be changed to focus on risk, not sexual orientation.
All potential donors would be asked if they have had new or multiple sexual partners. If they answer yes, they would then be asked if they have had anal sex.
Canada introduced a lifetime ban for gay men in 1992. In 2013, it allowed blood to be accepted from a man who abstained from sex with another man for at least five years. The waiting period then dropped to one year, and became three months in 2019.
Now that Canadian Blood Services has submitted its application, the approval process from Health Canada could take several months to a year before the changes take effect.