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Blood Services to recommend asking donors about sexual activity, not orientation

Organization plans to submit its recommendation to Health Canada within the next two weeks
A bag of blood is shown at a clinic in Montreal, Thursday, November 29, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Canadian Blood Services says it will soon recommend that male blood donors be asked if they have had multiple sexual partners and anal sex, not if they have had sex with a man.

It says it plans to submit its recommendation to Health Canada within the next two weeks.

Dr. Isra Levy, Blood Services’ vice-president of medical affairs, says its submission will say that sexual behaviour, not sexual orientation, determines risk of transmission of HIV.

Speaking at the organization’s board meeting today, Levy says it will recommend that men giving blood no longer be asked if they’ve had sex with another man during the screening process. ​

Instead donors, both male and female, would be asked if they have had new or multiple partners and, if they answer “yes,” if they have had anal sex, which carries a higher risk than other sexual activities of transmitting HIV.

Levy says Blood Services has done extensive modelling and the new criteria would allow screening for HIV “regardless of gender or sexual orientation” while protecting the safety of the blood supply.

—The Canadian Press

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