Risk of HIV did not change with expanding eligibility criteria for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men

What is this research about?

With a constant focus on maintaining a safe and adequate supply, Canadian Blood Services is committed to making blood donation as inclusive as possible. Currently, men can donate blood if it has been more than three months since their last sexual contact with a man. This is the latest in a series of progressively shorter time-based deferrals: from an indefinite deferral introduced in the mid-1980s, to a 5-year deferral (2013), a 12-month deferral (2016), and now a 3-month deferral (2019). These eligibility changes have been supported by significant advances over the past three decades including better testing for transfusion-transmissible infections, the introduction of information technology systems to safely manage blood inventory and a better understanding of behaviours that expose individuals to new infections. Before and after the implementation of each change in the eligibility criteria, the safety of the blood supply and donors’ observance of eligibility criteria were evaluated. Each evaluation indicated that the risk of HIV remained very low. This study looked at trends by assessing the residual risk of HIV and donor survey results between 2010 and 2021, a period encompassing all three eligibility criteria changes.

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