Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec are responsible for ensuring the safety and sufficiency of the national blood supply. Both organizations are committed to advancing Canada’s blood system. They continue to lead activities to advance the donor eligibility criteria specific to men who have sex with men (MSM). Through the MSM Research Program, a unique and focused national effort to create scientific knowledge, Canadian blood operators are supporting 15 research projects to generate evidence necessary to advance MSM blood donor criteria.
At an MSM Knowledge Synthesis Forum (the ‘Forum’) held on Nov. 6–7, 2019, the research teams presented their preliminary results and engaged in open dialogue with attendees on what these findings mean and their potential impact. The Forum was hosted by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec. Forum attendees included representatives from several international blood operators and organizations, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, LGBTQ+ communities and patient organizations. This interim report provides an overview of the preliminary results and the discussions that took place.
Three broad principles were considered during discussions on the preliminary findings: acceptability, safety and feasibility.
Discussions at the Forum highlighted an appreciation of the volume of data generated so far, the dedication of the research teams and the stakeholders, and the commitment of Canadian blood operators. The need for better knowledge dissemination from blood operators regarding blood donor eligibility criteria and the evidence supporting the criteria was raised. Ongoing research is needed to continue to build the evidence base to advance Canada’s blood donor policy for MSM.