Awareness and understanding of apheresis plasma donation and effectiveness of alternative donor screening questions for diverse gbMSM and trans populations

Canadian blood operators face the challenge of addressing gbMSM and trans-related donor policies and screening that are viewed as discriminatory while also meeting Health Canada regulatory requirements. Currently, two sets of changes are being considered that may affect gbMSM and trans donors.
First, changes to donor screening and policy are being considered to enable low-risk sexually active gbMSM to donate apheresis plasma for fractionation. This change may require applying alternative donor screening questions such as a “capture” question (e.g. “In the last 3 months, have you had sex with a male?”) followed by sub-questions to identify low-risk donors from those who answer “yes” to the capture question (e.g. questions used by blood operators in other countries include number of sexual partners, recency of partners, and exclusivity of partners). Efforts to move in this policy direction require additional research to ensure that implementation is evidence-based and that the questions are appropriate, understandable and effective. Moreover, the awareness and understanding of apheresis plasma donation by diverse gbMSM and trans populations is yet unclear and must be assessed if a move in this direction is to be effective.
Second, to be more inclusive to trans and gender diverse donors, Canadian Blood Services is considering moving from a binary model in which all donors must select either “female” or “male” to a two-system approach where donors would be asked their “sex assigned at birth” and “current gender” with various options provided (e.g. woman, man, gender non-binary, genderfluid, etc.) (CIHR, 2020; WAGE, 2020). It is important to assess how this change will be received by the communities it will affect and to be sure the options available are appropriate and understandable.

References:

CIHR (2020). Science is Better with Sex and Gender. Retrieved from https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/51310.html

WAGE Canada (2020). The Government of Canada’s Approach to Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+). Retrieved from https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/gba-acs/approach-approche-en.html
Principal Investigator / Supervisor
GAHAGAN, Jacqueline
Co-Investigator(s) / Trainee
HAW, Jennie LACHOWSKY, Nathan DRYDEN, OmiSoore MANNING, Eli FOSTER, Terrie O'BRIEN, Sheila HACHETTE, Todd MULLOWNEY, Mike
Institution
Dalhousie University
Program
MSM Plasma Program
Province
Nova Scotia
Total Amount Awarded
$200,500
Project Start Date
Project End Date