Blood Services to recommend ending ban on donations from gay men

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Male donors will no longer be asked if they have had sex with another man, but in the future with women they will be asked if they have had multiple sexual partners and anal sex.

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Canadian Blood Services says it plans to submit its recommendation to end the gay blood ban to Health Canada within the next two weeks.

Its presentation will state that sexual behavior, not sexual orientation, determines the risk of transmission of HIV, Dr. Isra Levy, vice president of medical affairs for blood services, told the organization’s board meeting on Friday.

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Levy said it would recommend that men who have given blood no longer be asked during the screening process if they have had sex with another man.

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“If the submission is approved we will be able to focus donor screening on high-risk sexual behavior. Specifically, the change will allow us to stop asking men if they have had sex with another man. created,” he said.

The evidence was now “tremendous that this change … would not compromise security in any way,” he said.

The blood service said it has safety evidence from risk modelling, its own research program and international research, including from the United Kingdom.

He said the Canadian Blood Service was in weekly contact with the UK Blood Service, which has already ended the gay blood ban.

The Canadian Blood Service plans to recommend to Health Canada that screening questions be changed along UK lines to end discrimination against gay men who want to donate blood.

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Currently, men who have volunteered to donate blood are asked if they have had sex with a man in the past three months. Women wishing to donate are asked if they have had sex with a man in the past three months who has had sex with another man in the past 12 months.

If proposals for blood services are approved, potential donors, both male and female, will be asked whether they have new or multiple partners instead. If they answer “yes,” they will be asked whether they have had anal sex, which carries a higher risk of transmitting HIV than other sexual activities.

Levy said blood services have done extensive modeling and the new criteria will allow screening for HIV “regardless of gender or sexual orientation” while protecting the safety of the blood supply.

He added that safety remains “paramount” and that “blood safety will not be compromised by our proposed approach.”

Canadian Blood Services tests all donated blood products for viruses and diseases, including HIV, but the tests may not be 100 percent accurate. According to the investigative agency’s website, limiting exposure to blood recipients is an important part of it.

As is now in Canada, a gay man who has had sex with one partner in the past three months cannot give blood, but a straight man can, even if he has had multiple partners during the same time frame. have sex with.

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The government has said it wants to expedite the process of ending the gay blood ban. Health Canada is expected to make its decision by spring next year.

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