U.S. federal health officials are lifting a 32-year lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM). However, restrictions will remain in place to restrict who can donate.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on December 21 that MSM who have been celibate for a year can donate blood. This policy matches other countries, such as the U.K., Australia, and Japan.
The previous indefinite ban on MSM was in place for 30 years in an effort to protect the blood supply from HIV.
In Canada, Canadian Blood Services changed their policy in May 2013. Previously, all MSM who had sexual contact with at least one man since 1977 was excluded from donating blood. That Health Canada regulation was introduced in 1992. Now, all MSM must be celibate for five years before their blood donations will be accepted.
The restrictions have still come under fire from activists for being discriminatory.
However, Canada may soon follow in the footsteps of the U.S.
Canadian Blood Services states on their website that there is now "sufficient evidence to support a one-year deferral period".
Consequently, in early 2016, they will submit a proposal to Health Canada to reduce the deferral period from five years to one year.
The Liberal party has also promised to end the ban on accepting blood donations from MSM.