Blood donation: Canada drops abstinence period for gays

Steph Deschamps / April 29, 2022

Canada announced on Thursday the abandonment of a three-month abstinence period imposed on gay men wanting to donate blood, following in the footsteps of several countries including the United Kingdom, France and Israel.
 
By Sept. 30, a new approach will be in place: only donors who engage in sexual behaviors considered high-risk, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, will now be deferred. Today's approval, which marks an important milestone toward a more inclusive blood donation system across the country, is based on the advancement of scientific evidence over the past several years, the health department said in a statement.
 
The request was made by Canadian Blood Services, which operates in all of Canada except Quebec.
 
The deferral period for gay men to donate blood has been gradually reduced over the past decade. The lifetime ban on blood donation for gay men was introduced after a tainted blood scandal that saw thousands of Canadians infected with HIV after receiving transfusions in the 1980s.
 
In recent years, the abstinence period has been lowered: gays could only donate blood in Canada after a 5-year abstinence period in 2013, then one year in 2016 and finally three months in 2019.
 
Recently, France, Spain, Italy, Israel and England have changed their conditions of access to blood donation in this direction.
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