Canadian Blood Services ends ban on blood for men who have sex with men

Canadian Blood Services said Health Canada had approved its request to end the policy that prohibits men who have sex with men from donating blood for three months after being sexually active.

Canadian Blood Services has asked Health Canada to allow it to eliminate questions about sex or sexuality, basing screening instead on high-risk sexual behaviors like anal sex.

It says that from September 30 at the latest, potential donors will be asked if they have had new or multiple sex partners in the past three months, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

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

WATCH | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses overturning the blood ban:

Trudeau discusses overturning blood ban

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Health Canada has approved Canadian Blood Services’ request to end the policy prohibiting men who have sex with men from donating blood for three months. 1:34

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

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

‘It should have 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 an important step in advancing both the safety of our blood supply, but also non-discriminatory blood practices,” Trudeau said Thursday.

Previously, the federal government tried to block a legal challenge who argues that Health Canada discriminates against gay men by overseeing a ban that prevents men who have sex with men from donating blood.

When asked by reporters whether Health Canada played a complicit role in the discriminatory policy, Trudeau said scientific evidence was needed and did not exist.

“It should have been done 10 years ago, 15 years ago,” he said.

“But the research, the science, the investment to be able to ensure that our blood supply continues to be safe, data-based, research-based, has simply not been done by any previous government,” said the Prime Minister.

Trudeau said the federal government invested more than $5 million in research and funded a dozen studies to arrive at the result.