Rectifying Canada’s Blood Deferral Policy
Currently, Canada has a blood deferral policy in place of 3 months for men who have sex with men (MSM). This means that, regardless of their relationship status, and regardless of their safe-sex practices, many gay and bi-sexual men will not be permitted to donate blood for most of their adult lives.
We believe this blood ban is outdated and discriminatory. Blood is valuable and in short supply, so we want to support Canada in adopting a blood donation model that encourages willing, able, and responsible individuals to donate
The intention of TRUSU’s campaign work is to advocate against the ban on MSM. An alternative policy that promotes fairness while still ensuring blood safety is one that refuses blood donations based on behaviours rather than populations – these behaviours might include engaging in unprotected sex, intravenous drug use, etc. In 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a campaign promise to adopt a behaviour-based model. It is four years later and this promise has not been fulfilled.
Fill out the form below to send an email now to Health Minister Patty Hajdu calling on her to end the ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men.
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Where did the ban come from?
The ban stems from the HIV crisis in the 1980s when HIV-infected blood became more prevalent in the gay community. This started as a lifetime ban, eventually moving to a 5 year, a 1 year and now a 3-month ban.
Who has authority over blood donations in Canada?
Organizations like Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec provide recommendations to the health authority Health Canada which then legislates policy.
Why have a ban? Isn’t all blood tested anyway?
All blood is tested for many diseases including HIV. There is a deferral because after infection from HIV there is a brief period in which infections such as HIV could not be detected from tests. This period makes it theoretically possible for someone to contract HIV after receiving blood from someone who tested negative. This is possible from any donor though, not just from men who have sex with men.
Are there other places who practice a behaviour-based model?
Countries in Western Europe such as Spain and Italy have traded population bans (i.e. MSM) for behaviour bans (i.e. those practicing risky sex are not permitted to donate blood).