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 after being sexually active.
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.
WATCH | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses blood ban reversal:
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.
‘Should’ve been done 10 years ago:’ Prime Minister
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government welcomes the decision and “it’s been a long time coming.”
“The current approach was discriminatory and wrong. This is a significant milestone for moving forward on both the safety of our blood supply, but also, non-discriminatory blood practices,” Trudeau said Thursday.
Previously, the federal government has tried to block a court challenge that argues Health Canada is discriminating against gay men by overseeing a ban that prevents men who have sex with other men from donating blood.
When pressed by reporters on whether Health Canada played a complicit role in the discriminatory policy, Trudeau said scientific evidence was needed and didn’t exist.
“This should’ve been done 10 years ago, 15 years ago,” he said.
“But the research, science, investment to be able to ensure that our blood supply continues to be safe, based on data, based on research, simply wasn’t done by any previous government,” the prime minister said.
Trudeau said the federal government invested more than $5 million into the research and funded a dozen studies to arrive at the outcome.
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