OTTAWA — Men in Canada will soon no longer be asked if they’ve had sex with another man as a part of a blood donation pre-screening process.
The request for the change was made by Canadian Blood Services which stated the change would make blood donation as inclusive as possible without compromising safety.
Though the pre-screening question will be removed, it will be replaced with new criteria which will ask all donors, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, if they’ve had new or multiple partners in the last three months. If the answer is yes to either, they would then be asked if they’ve had anal sex with any of these partners. If they have, they will be required to wait three months from when they last engaged in the act to donate.
The changes are expected to be implemented by September 30, 2022.
The soon-to-be former Health Canada policy is the same as the U.S. Federal Drug Administration’s currently imposes in that if any man has had sex with any other man, they must wait three months since their last encounter to donate blood.
The FDA’s policy was originally instituted in 1983, at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, when regulators banned any man from donating blood if he’d had sex with another man even one time in their lives. That policy was updated to a 12-month waiting period in December, 2015. It was April, 2020 when the FDA changed the waiting period to its current three-month standard. Because it is a federal regulation, all blood collection agencies in the U.S. must continue to follow this requirement.
According to the American Red Cross, a pilot study funded by the FDA is currently being conducted to determine if a donor history questionnaire based on individual risk would be as effective as the current wait period policy.