More inclusive access to blood donations from Sunday

As of Sunday, the same eligibility criteria will apply to all blood donors in Quebec, while men who have sex with men will no longer have to abstain for at least three months to donate blood. , as has been the case for many years.

Thus, starting December 4, Héma-Québec will have all its donors fill out a gender-neutral questionnaire that will allow the organization to base its eligibility criteria on « an individualized assessment of risky behaviors, rather than on of the person to a group considered to be at risk”, indicates a publication on its website. This way of doing things will apply to all types of blood donations, and no longer just to plasma donations.

“All the people who come to donate blood will be asked the same questions”, explains the To have to a Héma-Québec spokesperson, Laurent-Paul Ménard, on Saturday. Exit, therefore, the restrictive criteria specifically targeting men who have sex with men. “This is a very big step forward,” continues the spokesperson, who believes that a greater number of men having homosexual relations will thus be eligible from Sunday to donate blood.

Indeed, currently, men who have had sex with a man for less than three months cannot donate blood. However, this criterion will no longer apply from Sunday since a person who has had the same sexual partner for more than three months will be eligible to donate blood, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

« A homosexual person who has been in a stable relationship for several years can make a donation starting tomorrow, no problem on that, » confirms Mr. Ménard. People who have multiple partners and have had anal sex will have to wait three months before donating blood.

“We are not talking about a right, we are talking about privileges when we talk about blood donations”, underlines Laurent-Paul Ménard, who recalls the importance of ensuring that this “humanitarian gesture” is done in a security context. for “public health”. It is therefore necessary to limit the risk of contamination of the blood as much as possible, he adds. Whether Héma-Québec intends to apologize to the LGBTQ+ community for restricting the eligibility of men who have sex with men to donate blood for years, « is not on the agenda », Drops the spokesperson.

A long journey

Prior to 2013, men who have sex with men faced a lifetime ban from donating blood; a decision that was taken on the sidelines of the contaminated blood scandal in the 1990s. This criterion was then revised to allow them to donate blood five years after their last sexual relationship. Then, in 2019, this period was revised downwards, to three months of abstinence.

By removing this criterion, which had been greatly criticized by the LGBTQ + community, Quebec is following in the footsteps of the rest of the country. Canadian Blood Services had obtained approval from Health Canada last April to eliminate the exclusion period for men who have sex with men who are in a stable relationship.

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