Some people are deferred from giving blood because of where they have lived or visited. For instance, in June 2015 new questions were introduced to identify donors at greater risk of acquiring very rare strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Most reported cases of these emerging strains originate from a region in Africa, specifically Cameroon and Togo, so our questions ask about living in those countries or having a sexual partner who has lived in that region. People who are affected by this deferral policy cannot donate blood.
Donor screening procedures are exclusionary, but the exclusion is based on risk factors. It has nothing to do with race or ethnicity.
Other deferrals include those for malaria and vCJD. Because the risk of infection diminishes over time, people from a country where malaria is prevalent are deferred for three years after departure from the country. Those who have visited a malaria risk area are deferred for one year after departure.
Because of the theoretical risk of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vcJD), Health Canada has concluded that deferring donors who had spent a cumulative total of three months or more in the United Kingdom (U.K.) since 1980, or if they have spent a cumulative total of three months or more in France since 1980, or if they have spent a cumulative total of five years or more in Western Europe outside of the U.K. or France since 1980 through December 31, 2007, balances the safety of Canada's blood supply with the need for donors.