Health Canada has lifted restrictions on gay men donating blood, a move Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “good news for all Canadians” but took too long
OTTAWA — Health Canada on Thursday lifted restrictions on gay men donating blood, a move that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “good news for all Canadians” but that took too long.
Trudeau told a press conference that the ban should have ended 10 to 15 years ago, but research showing it would not affect the safety of the blood supply had not been found. been made by previous governments.
Trudeau said his government had spent C$5 million (US$3.9 million) on research into the safety aspects of changing blood donation rules and several scientific reports showed that “our supply in blood will continue to be safe”.
Health Canada has approved Canadian Blood Services’ request to end the policy that prohibits homosexuals from donating blood for three months after having gay sex.
The blood service asked Health Canada to allow it to eliminate questions about sex or sexuality, and instead base screening on high-risk sexual behaviors like anal sex.
Beginning September 30 at the latest, potential donors will be asked if they have had new or multiple sex partners in the past few months, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Those who say yes will be asked if they have had high-risk sex. If they did, they would have to wait three months after such activity before donating blood.
The agency says asking questions about sexual behavior rather than sexual orientation will allow it to more reliably assess the risk of infections such as HIV.
Catherine Lewis, spokesperson for Canadian Blood Services, said the change in criteria is “scientifically informed” and allows the agency to be more inclusive about who can donate while ensuring a supply of sure blood.
The policy began in 1992 with an outright ban on gay men donating blood following a tainted blood scandal. Several changes were then made to the blood donation scheme until the deferral periods for donations by gay men were lowered from a lifetime ban to three months in 2019.