Health Canada has approved Canadian Blood Services’ request to reduce the blood donation waiting period for men who have sex with men from one year to three months.
The change will take effect across the country on June 3, 2019. Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, Québec’s blood operator, will make the change at the same time.
“We empathize with individuals who, for many different reasons, cannot give blood. This further reduction to the waiting period represents the next available step forward in updating our blood donation criteria,” says Dr. Graham Sher, chief executive officer with Canadian Blood Services.
Work is underway to update documentation and computer systems, and to train employees to ensure the changes are instituted correctly and safely across the country.
Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec both submitted applications to Health Canada to change the eligibility criteria in December 2018. This change was based on scientific evidence and is supported by input from stakeholders.
“The work to evolve the blood donation eligibility criteria doesn’t end here. The research required to generate further evidence-based changes is ongoing,” added Dr. Sher.
Canadian Blood Services, in partnership with Héma-Québec and with funding from Health Canada, is supporting 15 research projects investigating various aspects of blood and plasma donors’ eligibility criteria and screening process. The goal of this unique research funding program is to generate adequate evidence to inform alternative screening approaches for blood and plasma donors, which could evolve the current eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men.
Any change to the eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men must be based on scientific evidence, acceptable to patient groups, and approved by our regulator, Health Canada. Canadian Blood Services is dedicated to being as minimally restrictive as possible, while also maintaining the safety of the blood supply.