Donor Qualification

Man who had sex with a man

A man whose last sexual relation with a man was three months earlier or more can give blood.

In 2022, Héma-Québec will implement a more inclusive donor selection criterion for plasma donation. The plan is to extend this measure to all types of donations (blood, plasma and platelets) in 2023.

To learn more:


 

Phase 1 – More inclusive plasma donation in fall 2022

Health Canada has approved Héma-Québec’s request to make plasma donation more inclusive, without affecting the safety of recipients. This change will come into effect in fall 2022 and will make it possible for:

  • a greater number of men who have sex with men to be able to donate plasma;
  • Héma-Québec to do away with the current temporary exclusion period from donating plasma for sexually active men in the previous three months.

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, gender or orientation, who present to donate plasma will be asked if they have had sexual relations and, if so, the type of recent sexual behaviour. For example, men who have had the same sexual partner for the past three months will now qualify to donate plasma if they meet the other selection criteria.

Héma-Québec has decided to take a two-step process, starting with plasma donation, for the following reasons:

  • This two-step process provides a greater level of acceptability for groups of recipients of blood products.
  • The processing of plasma destined for the manufacture of drugs involves additional safety measures that are not found with blood or platelet donations. Plasma for fractionation is heat-treated with chemicals to inactivate potential viruses and pathogens, which further decreases the risk (making it practically non-existent).

 

 

Phase 2 – More inclusive blood, platelet and plasma donations in spring 2023

In the months following Phase 1, Héma-Québec plans to file a new request with Health Canada to further ease restrictions.

Héma-Québec plans to extend the measure to other types of donations (whole blood and platelets) in the months following implementation of the expanded plasma donation. In that case, Héma-Québec could make the criterion more inclusive in spring 2023.

Since 2013, Héma-Québec has doubled its efforts to obtain supporting data that would make it possible to ease the qualification criteria for men who have sex with men, without affecting the safety of recipients.

The data collected to date made it possible to file four requests to ease the qualification criterion affecting men who have sex with men. These requests were accepted by Health Canada based on evidence showing that the safety of the blood products would not be affected.

By spring 2023, Héma-Québec plans to pursue its efforts to make donating blood products more inclusive and accessible to men who have sex with men.

Héma-Québec hopes not only to advance eligibility criteria toward the goal of greater diversity and inclusion but also to better understand and improve the experience that it offers to LGBTQ+ communities. In 2020, the organization mandated a research team from UQAM to conduct an analysis of this very subject. The results provided avenues for improvement, including several that may be deployed soon.

In June 2021, Héma-Québec also updated all its messages intended for men who have sex with men. Following these changes, a qualitative analysis, performed by the firm Influence Communication, showed that the messages had been well received.