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Canada moving to end lifetime blood donation ban on gay men

Canadian Blood Services have proposed an end to the country’s lifetime ban on gay men donating blood, recommending that those who have not had sex for five years or more should be acceptable donors

Canada looks set to end its lifetime ban on men-who-have-sex-with-men giving blood after a Canadian Blood Services recommendation that the ban be reduced to five years.

In September 2011 the Canadian Blood Services board of directors passed a motion committing the organization to re-examine its policy and in December it recommended to Health Canada that men-who-have-sex-with-men who have not been sexually active for five or more years should be considered acceptable donors.

Health Canada is expected to make an official decision on the recommendation within the next three months, meaning some gay men could be donating by the middle of 2013.

A statement by the Canadian Blood Services indicated that it could be open to a further reduction of the ban in years to come.

‘We see this change as a first and prudent step in incremental change on this policy,’ the Canadian Blood Services statement read.

‘It will be reviewed in the near future as additional data emerge and new technologies are implemented.’

Reacting to the news, AIDS Calgary Awareness Association executive director Susan Cress told CBC News Calgary that her organization would like to see the ban on HIV negative men-who-have-sex-with-men and who practice safe sex removed completely.

‘The emotion of this topic needs to go away and the politics of the topic needs to go away,’ Cress said.

‘We just need to see an evidence-based decision … We have the science that backs that a ban is not something that's going to secure our blood system, so just remove the ban.

In May of 2012 an Australian Red Cross review recommended that Australia’s ban on gay men giving blood be reduced from twelve to six months, while Mexico became the first country in North America to screen donors based on sexual behavior rather than orientation in December of last year.

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