Health Canada lifts policy banning sperm donations from men who have sex with men

Health Canada says it will end a long-standing policy that blocked all men who have sex with men from donating to sperm banks.

The move lifts a blanket ban that has been in place for more than 30 years.

“After a review of the latest scientific evidence and feedback received from recent consultations, Health Canada is updating the donor screening criteria for sperm and ova donors to adopt a more inclusive screening approach,” a spokesperson said in an email on Thursday.

“The new inclusive approach will replace the current men who have sex with men screening questions with gender-neutral, sexual behaviour-based donor screening questions.”

WATCH | Blood donation policy for men who have sex with men changes:

Celebration, criticism as Canada ends ban on blood donations

Health Canada has approved ending a ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men, basing screening on sexual behaviour instead of gender or sexuality. While some celebrated the move, others aren’t convinced the new screening questions will fix the problem.

The change will not compromise the safety of donated sperm and eggs in Canada, Health Canada added.

Currently, sperm donors are asked if they are a man who had sex with men, while egg donors are asked if they had sex with men who have sex with men.

The change comes into effect on May 8 to give sperm banks time to implement the changes to the screening criteria.

In 2022, Health Canada approved a request from the Canadian Blood Services to eliminate a policy that prevented men who have sex with men from donating blood for three months after being sexually active. 

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