Canadian Blood Services to end ‘blood ban,’ bring in behaviour-based screening

Canadian Blood Services says asking about sexual behaviour, rather than sexual orientation, will allow it to more reliably assess the risk of infections such as HIV.

The Canadian Press 2 minute read April 28, 2022
Bag of blood and hand of donor

In 1985, the Tainted Blood Scandal happened, and saw 2,000 Canadians infected with HIV from tainted blood products, and 30,000 with hepatitis C. GETTY

Canadian Blood Services says Health Canada has approved its request to end the policy that restricts men who have sex with men from donating blood for three months.

Canadian Blood Services asked Health Canada to allow it to scrap questions about gender or sexuality, basing screening on higher-risk sexual behaviour such as anal sex instead.

It says starting no later than Sept. 30, potential donors will be asked if they have had new or multiple sexual partners in the last three months, no matter their gender or sexual orientation.

They will then be asked whether they have had anal sex with any of those partners and if they have, then they will need to wait three months since that activity before donating blood.

The agency says asking about sexual behaviour, rather than sexual orientation, will allow it to more reliably assess the risk of infections such as HIV that can be transmitted through infusions.

It also says the shift comes after “countless hours” of work by LGBTQ and other groups, who have long advocated for a change in policy.

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