Pilot Program Will Allow More Gay, Bisexual Men to Donate Plasma in Canada

October 26, 2021

Health Canada recently approved a Canadian Blood Services (CBS) pilot program that will allow gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships to donate source plasma without a deferral period.

The pilot program – taking place at CBS donor centers in Calgary, Alberta, and London, Ontario – utilizes a screening model that includes sexual behavior-based questions for men who have sex with men (MSM) rather than a time-based deferral period. Currently, MSM are eligible to give blood in Canada three months after their last sexual contact with a man.

Under the pilot program, MSM who answer “yes” to having had sex with a man in the last three months are eligible to donate source plasma at the Calgary and London donor centers if they have not had a new sexual partner in the last three months and if they and their partner have only had sex with each other in the last three months. They must also meet all other criteria for donation.

In its announcement, CBS noted that the process of changing its source plasma eligibility criteria started in 2019, and the organization submitted the pilot program request in May 2021. CBS also reaffirmed that its goal is to remove the current waiting period for MSM and use sexual behavior-based screening for all donors. The organization intends to make a submission recommending this change to Health Canada by the end of 2021.