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Potential dangers of using donor semen from questionable sources

Starting date:
August 29, 2011
Posting date:
August 29, 2011
Type of communication:
Information Update
Subcategory:
Biologic/vaccine
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Issue:
Important Safety Information, Disease
Audience:
General Public
Identification number:
RA-110004510

Further to an earlier Information Update, Health Canada is reminding Canadians of the serious potential health risks of using donor semen for assisted conception obtained through potentially unreliable sources, such as the Internet.

Donor semen obtained through questionable means, such as through transactions arranged via the Internet, may not have been appropriately screened and tested, and therefore may not be safe. For example, it could pass on a range of infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B or C, Syphilis, Chlamydia, or Gonorrhoea to both mother and any child born through the use of donor semen.

There are strict controls in place for obtaining donor semen to protect the health and safety of Canadians and minimize the potential risk of transmitting serious infectious diseases. Canadians who are considering using donor semen for assisted conception should consult their health care professional.

Canadians should be cautious of websites advertising the availability of semen, such as “fresh” semen that has not been processed and cryopreserved (frozen), with claims that the semen donors have been properly screened and tested, as such claims may not be true.

Regulations apply to the importation, processing and distribution of donor semen. They require that donor semen must be quarantined for a minimum of six months. Donors must be screened and tested before the donation and six months after, in order to minimize the risk of transmission of infectious diseases. Health Canada maintains a list of semen processors and importers that are subject to regular inspections.

There are also regulations governing consent to use semen. Canadians wishing to donate semen should visit the Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (AHRC) website, or call AHRC toll-free at 1-866-467-1853, or e-mail: info.ahrc-pac@hc-sc.gc.ca for more information about informed consent requirements.

Advisory

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