Health Canada announced today (June 20) that Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec are authorized to reduce the deferral period for blood donations for men who have sex with men (MSM) from five years to one year.
The change is a result of proposals from Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec based on scientific data.
Men who have not had sex with men over the past year are now eligible to donate blood in Canada.
Health Canada and blood operators will monitor donations from new donors to see if there is an increase in HIV or other infection rates.
In 2013, Health Canada lifted a lifetime ban on male blood donors who have had sex with men, reducing it to a deferral period of five years.
Advocates and activists have called the restrictions on MSM discriminatory.
Gay men abstinent for a year cleared by Health Canada to donate blood
Health Minister Jane Philpott says government committed to reducing wait period further
Health Canada has cleared the way for gay men who abstain from sex for at least one year to donate blood — a policy shift that falls short of the Liberal Party’s election pledge to eliminate the waiting period entirely.
Men who have sex with men are currently barred from blood donations if they were sexually active in a five-year period, a waiting period that advocates call far too onerous and blatantly discriminatory. Before 2013, there was a blanket ban on all donations from men engaged in same-sex intercourse.