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Blood donation waiting period for men who have sex with men reduced to one year

(OTTAWA) – Health Canada has approved Canadian Blood Services’ request to reduce the blood donation waiting period for men who have sex with men from five years to one year.

The change will take effect across the country on Aug. 15. Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, Québec’s blood operator, will make the change at the same time.

“This is an exciting, incremental step forward in updating our blood donation criteria based on the latest scientific evidence,” says Dr. Graham Sher, chief executive officer, Canadian Blood Services. “Canadian Blood Services is dedicated to being as minimally restrictive as possible, while also maintaining the safety of the blood supply.”

Work is underway to update documentation and computer systems, and to train employees to ensure the changes are instituted correctly and safely across the country.

Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec both submitted applications to Health Canada to change the eligibility criteria near the end of March. This change was based on scientific evidence and supported by input from stakeholders.

Canadian Blood Services is exploring the possibility of moving toward behaviour-based screening. We are working with researchers, the LGBTQ community, patient groups and other stakeholders to determine how best to gather the scientific evidence required to determine future changes to the eligibility criteria.

Our first priority continues to be safety, as patients bear 100 per cent of the risk associated with changes to our eligibility criteria. To learn more, visit blood.ca.