Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gay men eligible to donate blood

Change applauded as a positive start

  • Print

New rules that will let men who have sex with men donate blood under certain provisions, are being called a positive step forward.

New rules came into effect Monday. They allow men to donate blood as long as they haven't had sex with another man in the last five years. The previous rules, which were established in the 1980s, set that period of time as indefinite, meaning those men couldn't donate.

Health Canada approved the changes at the request of Canadian Blood Services.

Mindy Goldman, executive medical director at Canadian Blood Services, said the original rules were created around the time when HIV started spreading in North America.

CBS requested the change because modern medical procedures make screening blood for conditions such as HIV easier, she said.

"There's been tremendous progress in detection of HIV in blood since then, and tremendous progress in our processes," Goldman said.

One of the voices protesting the original policy has been the Canadian Federation of Students, which has opposed the policy since the 1990s.

Brent Farrington, internal co-ordinator for the federation, said they were happy to see the new policy.

"We see it as a positive step forward," Farrington said.

But more needs to be done, Farrington said.

The problem with the current policy is it still singles out men who had sex with men, regardless of how often they had sex or how they did it.

"What that does, it essentially removes an entire group from donating to the blood supply ... based on a stereotype," he said.

Farrington said the federation wants a behaviour-based policy that identifies risky behaviours, such as having multiple sexual partners in a short period of time.

"Under the current system as it exists, two men who have been in a monogamous relationship for 45 years can't give blood, whereas a heterosexual man who has engaged with multiple sexual partners in the last three months is more than welcome to donate to the system," Farrington said.

Farrington pointed to countries such as Portugal and Italy, both of which have behaviour-based policies, he said.

Goldman said a behaviour-based approach is not useful because it creates questions that could eliminate too many potential donors.

"We could not implement those types of questions without having massive donor loss," she said.

Still, she didn't go as far as saying such a program couldn't exist in the future.

"We feel like this is the first step. This is the first change in the policy since it was introduced in the 1980s," she said.

"It could be that the next step would be a shorter deferral period, such as a one-year deferral. We don't see this as our final destination," she said.

Robert Cushman of Health Canada said the government could approve more changes in a few years after monitoring the change just implemented.

"After a few years they could come forward with additional changes as they judge necessary," Cushman said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 24, 2013 A7

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg Free Press 27 cent digital payment system

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY

View More Gallery Photos


What do you think of Manitoba Hydro's deal to create a surface-parking lot to allow for construction of a new substation?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google