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Implementation of sexual risk behavior donor screening in Canada.

Transfusion 2024 May 18
BACKGROUND: The two Canadian blood suppliers, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, removed the time-based deferral for men who have sex with men and adopted criteria assessing sexual risk behaviors. We report the impact of these changes on the safety and adequacy of the Canadian blood supply.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Since 2022, all donors are asked if (1) they have had a new partner and (2) more than one sexual partner in the last 3 months. Donors answering yes to either question are asked if they had anal sex in the last 3 months; if yes, they are deferred for 3 months. We followed HIV rates for the 18 months before and 14 (Héma-Québec) or 18 months (Canadian Blood Services) post-implementation and interviewed HIV-positive whole blood donors. We assessed the number and characteristics of whole blood donors answering yes to the two first questions with or without deferral.

RESULTS: There were four HIV-positive donations out of 1,492,355 donations pre-implementation and four out of 1,447,772 post-implementation (0.27/100,000 vs. 0.28/100,000, p = 1.00). Post-implementation, one HIV-positive donor was non-compliant with multiple criteria, no risk factors were identified in the others. 3.2% of donors answered yes to questions (1) and/or (2); 0.17% were deferred for a new partner and/or more than one partner and anal sex. Deferral rates were highest in first time, younger donors, and similar in males and females.

CONCLUSION: Implementation of sexual risk behavior donor screening resulted in unchanged HIV rates to date and a manageable deferral rate.

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