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Blood services are one step closer to the end of the ban

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In a move that supporters of LGBTQ2S + have been postponing for a long time, Canada Blood Service submitted an application to Health Canada on Wednesday to end the blood ban.

With a new request to review the policy, Canadian Blood Services, a blood donation clinic for gay and bisexual men, and for others in the LGBTQ2S + community.

Instead, they want to ask all donors, regardless of orientation, whether they have engaged in higher-risk sexual activity and derive a screening model based on the sexual behavior of all donors, regardless of orientation. increase.

“We aim to be an organization that is comprehensive and welcoming to all potential donors with minimal restrictions … this will accurately identify potential transfusion infections, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. And you can be sure that you can identify it. “Read the latest information. We will announce the submission on the website of the donor organization.

Blood donation policy currently prohibits Canadian blood services from giving blood to gay or bisexual men who have sex with men, and certain trance people who have sex with men, unless they give up for three months. .. Earlier this year, a pilot project was approved for plasma donation at centers in Calgary and London, Ontario. As long as the donor does not have a new sexual partner or their partner has not had sex with another partner in the last 3 months.

If this submission is approved, the donor will be screened before rolling up the sleeves and instead asked if they have recently engaged in anal sex in the context of a new or multiple sexual partner within a particular time frame. Will be. This is a move, according to Canadian Blood Services, that shows evidence that donor equity can be increased while ensuring a safe supply.

“Sexual behavior, not sexual orientation, determines the risk of sexually transmitted infections with blood-borne pathogens,” said Dr. Isra Levy, vice president of medical care at Canada Blood Services, on December 3rd. Said at the board of directors.

Canadian Blood Services has notified that this submission will take place for several months, but now it needs to be considered by Health Canada. In confirming that they have received the submission Health Canada said on Wednesday We aim to complete the review in 90 days, but “The timeline may vary depending on the integrity of the data provided and discussions with the organization.”

If the change is approved, Canadian Blood Services may take several months after the review is completed to ensure that staff are trained and ready to move to the new screening system. Is warned.

“We certainly … many in the community are anxious for the opportunity to donate and feel this is a long time behind. We promise to take the time to get this right.” Said Levy.

Canadian Blood Services donates blood in all states and territories other than Quebec managed by Hema Quebec. The agency is not involved in this submission.

Year of change in making

The policy began in 1992 as a complete lifelong ban following a contaminated blood scandal in the 1980s and 1990s, and after receiving donor blood, thousands of Canadians became infected with HIV. .. During that scandal, the Canadian Red Cross, the predecessor of Canadian Blood Services and Hemacebeck, failed to properly test and screen donors, exposing thousands of Canadians to HIV through contaminated blood products.

For nearly 30 years since then, policies have been gradually relaxed. The 2013 change knocked down the lifetime ban for a five-year postponement. This means that instead of completely rejecting donations from men who have sex with men or from the “MSM” community, donations will only be accepted if the donor has been sexually inactive for five years.

In 2016, the five-year deferral period was reduced to one year, and in June 2019, the current three-month deferral period became effective.

As previously reported by CTVNews.ca, in a question about why policy progress is slow, Health Canada has asked donors to monitor the potential impact on updated blood safety. We have “needed” a two-year interval before we can update our screening criteria. According to the document, donor screening criteria.

Policy evolution over the past few years has been the result of Health Canada’s approval of regulatory submissions, which included risk modeling to show that it can be done safely.

“Future changes will only be approved if Health Canada is convinced that the changes are safe. Health Canada is committed to protecting the safety of Canada’s blood system. We are also working to support Canada’s blood and plasma donation policy.

Canadian Blood Services has also consulted with stakeholders such as the LGBTQ2S + community and patient groups throughout this process.

As has been the case for some time, all blood donations in Canada are tested for HIV. With current testing features, HIV can be detected in a “window period” of about 9 days after infection.

According to Canadian Blood Services, reducing the length of time that affected donors have had to abstinence in the past does not increase their risk of infection.

“There is more evidence than ever … This shows that this change does not compromise the safety or suitability of the blood supply. Currently, the risk of HIV being introduced into the blood system is very low. According to the evidence, the proposed changes do not increase that risk, “reading their website.

Federal commitment is a challenge

The federal government has been blamed for years for failing to comply with their long-standing promise to lift the ban. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also been criticized for repeatedly pledged imminent policy changes in recent years.

The key ministers responsible for this file have rejected the call to unilaterally enforce changes to Canada’s blood regulation rules.

The liberals have funded research projects aimed at helping strengthen evidence-based decision-making processes, including research into donor eligibility criteria and alternative screening processes. The CBS states that this evidence, risk modeling based on data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and international studies have notified the submission in 2021.

Questions about policy and whether the federal government discriminated against LGBTQ2s + donors by supporting it continue to be asked in federal court.

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2/ https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/canadian-blood-services-recommends-end-to-outright-ban-on-donations-from-gay-men-1.5708345

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