Eligibility criteria for plasma donation by men who have sex with men: historic change in Québec

Montréal, March 25, 2022 – This coming fall, plasma donation will become more inclusive in Québec, without affecting the safety of recipients. This change, which will allow a greater number of men who have sex with men to be able to donate plasma, is the result of a decision by Health Canada following a request by Héma-Québec in 2021.

The decision will enable Héma-Québec to do away with the current three-month exclusion period from donating plasma for sexually active men who have sex with men. Eligibility to donate plasma will be founded on an individual assessment of a person’s risk behaviour rather than on belonging to a group considered at risk.

This new approach means that all persons, regardless of sex or gender, who present to donate plasma will be asked if they have had sexual relations and, if so, the type of recent sexual behaviour. Men who have had the same sexual partner for the past three months will qualify to donate plasma if they meet the other selection criteria.

Why only plasma?

The processing of plasma destined for the manufacture of drugs involves additional safety measures that are not found with blood or platelet donations. The new approach is also aimed at collecting supporting data that will make it possible, in a second stage, to expand the measure to blood and platelet donations. In the opinion of Héma-Québec, this two-step process provides a greater level of acceptability for regulatory authorities and recipients of blood products.

Dr. Marc Germain, Vice-President, Medical Affairs explains: “Hand in hand with the donor selection criteria, we assess all donations for signs of major infection to guarantee the safety of the blood sent to hospitals. Our goal is to ensure that donating is a positive experience. We are eager to welcome donors as we move forward with these changes.”

About Héma-Québec

Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently meet the Québec population’s needs for blood and other high-quality biological products of human origin. Héma-Québec has over 1,400 employees, nearly 200,000 donors of blood, stem cells, mother’s milk and human tissues, as well as thousands of blood drive volunteers. Every year, Héma-Québec delivers over 800,000 biological products of human origin to Québec’s hospitals in order to meet patients’ needs.

Give blood. Give life.

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Information: Héma-Québec • Media Line | 514-832-0871 • www.hema-quebec.qc.ca