Gay hiking

Canada lifts blood donation ban for sexually active gay and bisexual men

Band Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO, April 28 (Reuters)Canada announced on Thursday that it was lifting a ban on blood donations from sexually active men who have sex with men, first imposed decades ago, as part of an effort to create a “more inclusive” system.

The federal Department of Health has announced that it is authorizing a submission from Canadian Blood Services to allow donations from men who have had sex with another man in the previous three months.

Instead of requiring men who have sex with men to stay abstinent for at least three months before donating, the agency will screen all potential blood and plasma donors for ‘high-risk sexual behavior’ . Under the new criteria, anyone who has had anal sex with a new partner will have to wait three months before donating, a Canadian Blood Services spokesperson said.

The change is expected to go into effect by September 30.

“Today’s authorization is an important step towards a more inclusive national blood donation system and builds on advances in scientific evidence made in recent years,” Health Canada said in a statement. .

This follows a change in the policy of a lifetime ban on blood donations, imposed in the mid-1980s, on men who had had sex with men since 1977. The government gradually reduced the periods of abstinence required at five years, three years and – from 2019 – three months.

The earlier rationale for the bans was that men who have sex with men had a higher prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus. But advocates and medical experts have argued that this is an outdated and stigmatizing assumption that does not reflect current risk factors.

Helen Kennedy, executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group Egale Canada, hailed the decision and the end of a “discriminatory” policy. “Since a long time !” she wrote in an email.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose Liberal Party has been promising to end the blood ban since 2015, called Thursday “a good day” and the blanket ban “discriminatory.”

“It took too long,” he told reporters. “It should have been done 10 years ago, 15 years ago. But the research…just wasn’t done by a previous government. So we did it.”

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto Editing by Paul Simao and Matthew Lewis)

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