Health Canada is lifting the blood donation ban for gay and bisexual men, according to a statement on Thursday.
The regulator says it’s giving the green light to a request from Canadian Blood Services to remove the ban on donations from men who had sex with men in the last three months.
The discriminatory ban, which started as a lifetime ban, was put in place in 1992 after a tainted blood scandal in the 1980s and 1990s that saw thousands of Canadians infected with HIV after receiving donated blood.
“Today’s authorization is a significant milestone toward a more inclusive blood donation system nationwide and builds on progress in scientific evidence made in recent years,” said Health Canada in the statement.
“Over the past decade, Health Canada has authorized several changes to the donor deferral period for men who have sex with men, from a lifetime restriction to five years in 2013, to one year in 2016 and to three months in 2019.”
The new policy will be in place by Sept. 30 and will see all donors screened for “high-risk sexual behaviours” rather than gender or sexual orientation.
Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services, said in a news release the approval is the result of more than a decade of work to make donating blood as “inclusive as possible.”
“Numerous 2SLGBTQIA+ and other stakeholder groups, researchers and Canadian Blood Services employees have contributed countless hours to this effort over the years,” said Dr. Sher in the release.
“This could not have happened without their hard work.”