Donor Qualification

Man who had sex with a man

NO if the last sexual contact with a man was less than 5 years ago. 

Blood donor eligibility criteria are safety measures established by the scientific community and regulatory agencies. Health Canada sets the national standards that Héma-Québec must apply.

Héma-Québec considers donor safety and recipient safety to be equal priorities. This means that some people can be temporarily or permanently excluded from the donation process for various reasons.

The Record of Donation remains one of the vital means of ensuring the highest level of safety of the blood supply.

Like a great majority of transfusion safety experts, Héma-Québec considers that it is justifiable and necessary to exclude certain groups from donating blood who are at risk of carrying infections that may be transmitted through blood transfusions. The frequency of HIV infection still remains much higher among homosexual men than among the general population. HIV prevalence is over 10% in this group compared to well below 1% among heterosexuals or lesbians.

Recent scientific data and advances in transfusion safety, however, have led Héma-Québec to consider relaxing the exclusion policy that applies to a man who had sex with a man.

Héma-Québec submitted a request to Health Canada for permission to reduce the exclusion period to five years. This request was accepted and the new criterion is into effect since July 22, 2013.

Questions and answers

No. If the last sexual contact with a man was less than 5 years ago.

The safety of the blood supply remains paramount. The Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, which was formed in the wake of the contaminated blood scandal, recommended that the principle of safety take precedence over all other principles and policies. The fact is that, inherent in the blood supply system, is the possible emergence – at any time – of new pathogens (i.e. viruses, bacteria) that are transmitted through transfusion. Some groups – especially those that represent transfusion recipients –were concerned with the possibility that men who have had sex with another man were at higher risk for these emerging infections. Given this possibility, the five-year exclusion period helped to reassure these groups of our ability to implement measures to protect the blood supply from such a risk.

Man who had sex with a man are at higher risk for HIV than the general population. The frequency of HIV infection still remains much higher among homosexual men. HIV prevalence is over 10% in this group compared to well below 1% among heterosexuals or lesbians.

Yes, every blood donation is tested and qualified. To learn more, see safety measures.

Remember that sex can contribute to the propagation of viruses that may be transmitted to other individuals through blood transfusions. Héma-Québec uses a range of very rigorous screening tests. In spite of the high performance of these tests, the risk of an infected blood donation going undetected, however slight, is not zero because of the sensitivity limitations of the tests. Hence, in spite of the use of screening tests, we exclude donors at high risk of infections that might be transmitted through blood.

There is a period of risk (called the “silent period” or “window period”) during which, even if a person feels healthy and the screening tests for HIV and Hepatitis B and C are negative, that person can be infected and can transmit these viruses to the recipient of that blood.

Yes, to the extent that they meet the other donor eligibility criteria. See Record of Donation.