Health Canada Approves CBS Request for Individual Risk Assessment

April 29, 2022

Health Canada approved a request from Canadian Blood Services (CBS) on Thursday to replace donor eligibility criteria specific to men who have sex with men (MSM) with individual risk assessment for all donors, regardless of their sexual orientation. CBS expects to implement the new criteria no later than Sept. 30.

The new eligibility criteria will ask all donors, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, if they have had new or multiple sexual partners in the past three months. All donors with a new partner or multiple partners will be asked if they had anal sex in the last 3 months. If so, they will be deferred from donation for three months from when they most recently had anal sex. Other donors, if they are otherwise eligible, will be able to donate.

According to CBS, the approval is the culmination of a years-long process to make blood donation in Canada as inclusive as possible without compromising the safety of biological products or the adequacy of supply. CBS gathered evidence to support the proposal through the MSM Research Grant Program, international research, epidemiological data and its own risk modeling. The organization announced its intention to make the submission in June 2021.

“Today’s approval from Health Canada is the result of over a decade of work to make participation in Canada’s Lifeline as inclusive as possible, without compromising the safety of biological products or the security of supply,” said Graham Sher, MD, PhD, CEO of Canadian Blood Services.

“Numerous 2SLGBTQIA+ and other stakeholder groups, researchers and Canadian Blood Services employees have contributed countless hours to this effort over the years. This could not have happened without their hard work.”