Health Canada will allow gay men to donate blood if they haven’t had sex with a man in the last five years, a change in policy that will go into effect in the coming weeks.
"If a man has not had sex with another man within the last five years and meets all the other eligibility criteria to be a blood donor, he will be able to donate blood," Dr. Dana Devine, who is vice-president of medical, scientific and research affairs at Canadian Blood Services, told reporters Wednesday from Vancouver.
"This is a very significant change for us."
Previously, men who said they had sex with a man, even once, since 1977, were not eligible to donate blood.
Devine called it a prudent first step to make until the blood agency collects and analyzes data on HIV incidence in prospective donors as part of its review of further reductions to the deferral period.
Health Canada now says advances in screening technology mean disease-causing agents are more easily and quickly detected.
The changes take effect by the summer, Canadian Blood Services said, to allow time to adjust screening procedures.
Australia and the United Kingdom have reduced their lifetime bans.
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