Homosexual Canadian men will now have a much shorter deferral period for donating blood, according to Health Canada.
In an announcement made on Wednesday by the federal Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the blood donation ban for gay men has been reduced from one year to three months.
The deferral period means that men can now donate blood after at least 3 months since their last sexual contact with another man.
The reduction is in line with Health Canada’s eventual goal of removing a deferral period for donors altogether, and is the third reduction in the deferral period since Canada established a lifetime ban in 1977.
In 2013, the deferral period was reduced to five years, and in 2016 the ban was brought down to one year.
“Today, Canada took a major step in breaking down barriers preventing men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood,” said Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. “…This is a significant step towards eliminating the deferral period entirely.”
According to Health Canada, reducing the donation deferral period has not resulted in an increase of HIV-positive blood donations, and safety focuses have shifted away from sexual preference to behavioural-based screening.
Canada is not alone in establishing a three-month deferral period. Similar policies are already in place in England, Scotland, and Wales.