Canadian Blood Services submitted a long-awaited proposal to Health Canada on Wednesday to lift the ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men.
The presentation on the new screening criteria focuses “on the highest-risk sexual behavior” for all donors, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, according to a post on the CBS website.
Specifically, the proposed criteria “would ask all donors about anal sex in the context of new or recent multiple partners,” the publication says.
“This would allow us to accurately and reliably identify those who may have a transfusion-transmissible infection, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.”
CBS has not released his full presentation.
In Canada, blood donations are not currently accepted from men who have had sex with men in the past three months.
While the period of time during which donations are not allowed has continued to shrink over the years (it was once a lifetime ban), the ban has been in place since the early 1990s, when it was considered a way to protect the blood supply from HIV contamination.
Advocates have long criticized the ban as homophobic, with liberals vowing on their 2015 and 2019 platforms to repeal it. That promise was conspicuously absent in the 2021 election.
Health Canada has previously stated that CBS submissions “have a 90-day review target” and must include scientific data showing the safety of the proposed changes.
CBS says in its post that “we have more evidence than ever” that changing the screening criteria will not affect safety.
“Currently, the risk of HIV entering the blood system is extremely low, and according to the evidence, the proposed change will not increase that risk,” said CBS.
“External scientific committees have reviewed the details of the evidence and support our conclusion that blood safety will not be compromised by our proposed approach.”
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