Ban on Gay Blood Donors Lifted in Canada; Restrictions Remain
Gay men in Canada can now donate blood, but there's a catch: You must not have had sex with another man in the last five years.
The Canadian Blood Services have approved the measure, and are hoping to implement it as soon as mid-summer.
"The right thing to do and we are committed to regular review of this policy as additional data emerge and new technologies are implemented," Dr. Dana Devine, vice president of Medical, Scientific and Research Affairs at Canadian Blood Services said in a statement.
"We recognize that many people will feel that this change does not go far enough, but given the history of the blood system in Canada, we see this as a first and prudent step forward on this policy."
Canada currently has blood donation laws similar to those in the U.S., which exclude potential male donors who have had sex with another man since 1977 - when the AIDS epidemic first emerged.
Susan Cress, executive director of AIDS Calgary Awareness Association, said in January that the five-year gay sex abstinence requirement does not provide any more safeties. She thinks the ban should be dropped altogether.
"The evidence clearly shows decreasing the ban just to five years provides no increased safety for the blood services supply and in fact still contributes to stereotyping of HIV transmission in the country," Cress told CBC.
In the U.S., any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 is banned for life from donating blood. The federal policy was enacted in the 1985, when the risk of AIDS from transfusion was first recognized.