Donor Qualification

Man who had sex with a man

A man whose last sexual contact with a man was 3 or more months ago can give blood.

Since 2013, conclusive evidence regarding transfusion safety has enabled Héma-Québec to submit three requests to reduce the qualification criteria for men who have had sex with a man. Health Canada responded favourably to the requests after it was shown that the safety of blood products intended for transfusion to patients requiring them to regain their health was not affected.

Héma-Québec remains open to further reductions if conclusive scientific evidence becomes available, and product safety is shown. To this end, studies funded by Health Canada and conducted in partnership with Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec are under way.

Questions and answers

Yes. If the last sexual contact with a man was more than 3 months ago.

Enabling the greatest number possible of people who want to give blood to do so is one of Héma-Québec’s objectives. Our organization regularly reviews the blood donor qualification criteria. Any change must be done without compromising the safety of blood products destined for transfusion in patients who need them to regain their health. The safety of the blood supply depends on two elements: blood donor selection and testing of blood donations.

Health Canada approves blood donor qualification criteria before they are applied to our collection activities. The primary purpose of these criteria is to reduce the risk of transmission of blood-borne diseases and viruses. Scientific and public health data show that men who have had sex with a man make up a group that is at significantly higher risk of contracting HIV, which is transmissible by blood.

Public health authorities in Québec and in Canada monitor this situation annually. You can consult the most recent data from the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) here (in French only).

The Public Health Agency of Canada also issues an annual report on the status of HIV in the country.

Since 2013, following performance data on screening tests and conclusive evidence regarding transfusion safety, Héma-Québec was able to reduce three times the blood donor criterion for men who had sex with a man. Health Canada responded favourably to the requests after it was shown that the safety of blood products intended for transfusion to patients requiring them to regain their health was not affected.

Héma-Québec remains open to further reductions if conclusive scientific evidence becomes available, and product safety is shown. To this end, studies funded by Health Canada and conducted in partnership with Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec are under way.

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. Despite 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. For this reason, despite 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.

Blood donor qualification criteria help reduce the risk of transmission of viruses or diseases through transfusion. Some groups considered at risk of transmission through transfusion are excluded from giving blood, most often on a temporary basis.

Behaviour is one of the avenues currently being explored to possibly make a further reduction – the fourth since 2013 – in the qualification criterion for men who have had sex with a man.

Since 2013, conclusive evidence regarding transfusion safety has enabled Héma-Québec to submit three requests to reduce the qualification criteria for men who have had sex with a man. Health Canada responded favourably to the requests after it was shown that the safety of blood products intended for transfusion to patients requiring them to regain their health was not affected.

Héma-Québec remains open to further reductions if conclusive scientific evidence becomes available, and product safety is shown. To this end, studies funded by Health Canada and conducted in partnership with Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec are under way.

A woman who had sex with a woman can give blood.