Gay men who are sexually active can now donate blood after abstaining from sex for one year.
Health Canada said it made the change after blood operators Canadian Blood Services and Hema-Quebec asked for the reduction and presented data showing that the new policy would not affect the safety of the blood supply.
‘Canada has reduced blood donation deferral period for sexually active gay men from five years to one year.’
AdvertisementThe new rule will take effect August 15.
The five-year waiting period to donate blood was imposed in 2013 and prior to that, gay men were not allowed to donate.
"The reduction of the lifetime deferral to a five-year deferral has not resulted in any increase in HIV positive blood donations," Health Canada said in a statement.
Other countries with a one-year deferral period for men who have sex with men include Australia, Britain, France, New Zealand, Scotland and the United States.
Health Minister Jane Philpott was quoted by broadcaster CBC as saying Justin Trudeau's Liberal government had an "incredible desire" to reduce the waiting period even further.
She noted that the latest policy "is not a radical change" from the previous rule and many gay men would still be banned from donating blood.
"That being said, I would rather see Canada take a step in the right direction than stand still," Philpott said.