Deferral policy for men who have sex with men reduced from indefinite to
OTTAWA, May 22, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadian Blood Services has received
approval from Health Canada to reduce the current men who have sex with men (MSM) deferral period from indefinite to five years from last MSM
The change will be implemented by Summer of 2013, allowing time to
adjust our screening procedures.
Internationally, there is no medical consensus on blood donor screening
practices for MSM. Some countries in Europe and the United States
maintain lifetime bans. The UK and Australia have moved to a one-year
deferral, and others have different practices altogether.
"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," says Dr. Dana
Devine, VP of Medical, Scientific and Research Affairs at Canadian
Blood Services. "It's the right thing to do and we are committed to
regular review of this policy as additional data emerge and new
technologies are implemented."
Blood donor screening will be changed to ask potential male donors
whether they have had sex with a man in the past five years rather than
"even once, since 1977" - which is how it has read up until now. The
change means that any man who has not had sex with another man in the
last five years and meets other screening criteria may be eligible to
Canadian Blood Services has been actively pursuing data to inform a
policy change on MSM for several years. In September 2011, the Canadian
Blood Services board of directors passed a motion committing to
re-examine this policy, with a view to reduce this lifetime exclusion
to no less than five years and no longer than 10 years.
After conducting more risk analysis and extensive consultation with
scientific experts and with patient and community groups, Canadian
Blood Services submitted a policy change request simultaneously with
Héma-Québec to Health Canada in December of 2012.
Jennifer Breakspear, the executive director of Options for Sexual
Health, participated in those consultations and is now co-chair of the
Canadian Blood Services MSM deferral policy working group. "After years
of speaking against this policy, I recently gave blood again for the
first time in many years. I was always proud of being a blood donor and
now I am proud to work with Canadian Blood Services for change", she
said. "I will continue to advocate for gender neutral behaviour based
screening but this change is a step in the right direction. I applaud
Canadian Blood Services for arranging consultations with LGTB groups
and patient groups. The collaborative experience helped everyone
involved develop greater understanding and empathy for each other."
Letters of support from organizations such as The Canadian Hemophilia
Society, EGALE Canada, Thalassemia Foundation of Canada, Options for
Sexual Health, Canadian Immunodeficiencies Patient Organization, and
Canadian AIDS Society were sent to the Federal Minister of Health and
shows the will and desire of LGTB groups and patient groups to
collaborate on reform of this policy.
The policy change stipulates that blood operators must closely monitor
and report the potential impacts of this change in terms of
transmissible disease rates back to the regulator.
*An opportunity to speak to Dr. Devine via teleconference will be made
available to media on Wednesday, May 22 at 12:00 p.m. (noon) EDT.
Please contact Marc Plante at 613-739-2322 or firstname.lastname@example.org for call-in details.
About Canadian Blood Services
Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable
organization that manages the supply of blood and blood products in all
provinces and territories outside of Quebec. Canadian Blood Services
also oversees the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, and provides
national leadership for organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
Canadian Blood Services operates 42 permanent collection sites and more
than 20,000 donor clinics annually. The provincial and territorial
Ministries of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood
Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible
for regulating the blood system. To book an appointment or for more
information, visit us at www.blood.ca or call 1 888 2 DONATE.
Follow us on Twitter at @itsinyoutogive
YouTube : Visit our channel 18882DONATE
SOURCE: CANADIAN BLOOD SERVICES
For further information:
Canadian Blood Services / Société canadienne du sang