Understanding the impact of changes to blood donation deferral screening and criteria for men who have sex with men
Available evidence suggests that up to 71% of individuals will require blood or blood products at some point in their lives. To meet this demand, Canadian Blood Services estimates that approximately 100,000 new donors are required annually. However, current blood donation guidelines in Canada require a 3-month deferral period for men who have sex with men (MSM) due to the elevated incidence of HIV in this population, guidelines many see as discriminatory. Given the the improvement in HIV testing technology in recent years, re-evaluation of these guidelines would optimize donor eligibility. The proposed project will examine attitudes to revised donation guidelines among the general population and blood users, using a bilingual, representative national survey and semi-structured interviews with blood users. This will provide a better understanding of how moving towards gender-blind, behaviour-based screening of potential donors, and the inclusion of sensitive questions in the screening questionnaire, may affect donation rates and therefore the sufficiency of blood and blood products in Canada. This research will allow the partner organization, the Community-Based Research Centre for Gay Men's Health, who have been studying the issue for several years, to develop recommendations for Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec regarding screening and deferral criteria.