Health Canada receives submission from Canadian Blood Services to move to sexual behaviour-based screening criteria for all blood and plasma donors, including men who have sex with men
December 15, 2021 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada
Today, Health Canada received a submission from Canadian Blood Services seeking authorization to change its approach to blood and plasma donor screening. The submission proposes to move away from the current three month donor deferral period for all sexually active men who have sex with men, and to instead screen all donors, regardless of gender or sexuality, for high-risk sexual behaviour.
Health Canada, as the regulator responsible for overseeing the safety of Canada’s blood system, will review the submission to make sure any changes are based on robust scientific evidence and maintain Canada’s high standards for safety. The safety of donor blood and plasma recipients remains Health Canada’s number one priority.
Under Canada's Blood Regulations, the blood operators—Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec—are required to make submissions to Health Canada for any changes to their processes, such as changes to donor deferrals. The submissions must include scientific data that support the safety of the proposed changes. The Department’s review target for these submissions is 90 days. Actual timelines can vary depending on the completeness of the data provided and discussions with the organization.
Health Canada has authorized several changes to the donor deferral period for men who have sex with men over the last decade. The donor deferral period has been reduced in a stepwise manner based on the scientific evidence available at the time, from a lifetime restriction to five years in 2013, to one year in 2016, and—most recently—to the current three-month waiting period in 2019.
Health Canada is steadfast in its commitment to protecting the safety of Canada’s blood system and the recipients of donor blood and plasma. We are also committed to supporting blood and plasma donation policies in Canada that are non-discriminatory and scientifically based.
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