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Government defends ban on gay men giving blood

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  1. Simon Murphy 11 Feb 2009, 4:02pm

    This policy is shamefully homophobic. If they were serious about targetting sexual behaviour and not sexual orientation then they would also ban anyone who had ever had sex with someone from sub-Saharan Africa. People from sub-Saharan Africa are just as likely to be HIV+ as gay men but people who have had sex with such a person is not banned from donating blood. That would be considered racist. The Terrence Higgins Trust supports this government policy. Their claim that they are a non-homophobic organisation needs to be questioned as they are supporting clear homophobia.

  2. Simon, being sexually active in Africa or having sex with someone who was sexually active in Africa is grounds for refusal of blood donation – although granted the restrictions are lifted 12 months after the intercourse happened.

  3. Simon, they do refuse people who were sexually active in Africa or had sex with someone who was sexually active in Africa – although granted the restrictions are lifted 12 months after the last intercourse.

  4. Simon Murphy 12 Feb 2009, 9:26am

    Well the fact that the same rules are not applied to gay men is evidence of the homophobia of this policy. If they were to bring the rules governing blood donations from gay men in line with the rules governing people from sub-Saharan Africa then they could not be accused of homophobia. The fact that the Terrence Higgins Trust supports this policy makes it even worse.

  5. Does the same go towards men and women that have anal sex as a lot of my friends partake in that activity and give blood.

  6. Sister Mary Clarence 12 Feb 2009, 12:08pm

    “The United Kingdom adopts a highly precautionary approach to blood safety”. Clearly it doesn’t do so in an even-handed way, for the reasons given above.

    The 12 month rule applies as follows:

    You should not give blood for 12 months after sex with:

    1 A man who has had sex with another man (if you’re a female).
    2 A prostitute.
    3 Anyone who has ever injected themselves with drugs.
    4 Anyone with haemophilia or a related blood clotting disorder who has received clotting factor concentrates.
    5 Anyone of any race who has been sexually active in parts of the world where AIDS/HIV is very common. This includes countries in Africa.

    These all allow sufficient time for anybody who has contracted HIV to seroconvert. Then why not the same for men who have had sex with other men? Gay men and straight men as genetically no different, we are generally funnier and better looking, but aside from that the virus does not seroconvert at a different rate, so why then can a gay man not give blood if he has not been getting any for a while?

    That is where the inequality lies!!

  7. people who have sex with people from sub-Saharan Africa have the ban lifted after a year because presumably the threat of infection has passed, however in gay men the threat is ongoing, it’s a fact we have to live with, some gay men are irresponsible when it comes to using condoms as infection rates show. If the opposite were true infection rates would be going down not up. Sadly we live in a time when people are no longer afraid of HIV because their heads are buried in the sand and this means for the minute, we can’t give blood, people have to change first before policy does.

  8. The present policy is deeply homophobic, and encourages people to lie.

    As a teenager I had sex with a number of male schoolmates, all but one of whom now identify as straight and are married. Several of them give blood – they rightly feel that a very small number of gay experiences 40 years ago should not disqualify them!

    Nor do I think that I should be banned from giving blood – I’ve not been sexually active for over 20 years, and by any credible risk assessment must present a minuscule hazard … whatever my habits in my youth.

    The selection criteria the Blood Service use are implicitly homophobic – better criteria exist and should be used. Criteria that actually work – not criteria that might almost have been designed to encourage straight men who had long-ago same-sex experiences to actively deny that part of their lives.

  9. Simon Murphy 12 Feb 2009, 12:41pm

    I think the Terrence Higgins Trust are equally culpable as the Blood Service here. They AGREE with this clearly homophobic double standard (between gay men and sub-Saharan African people’s obligations when it comes to donations) and they do not oppose it when they have their meetings.

  10. Sister Mary Clarence 12 Feb 2009, 4:25pm

    Joe, the ‘threat’ is ongoing only if the sex is ongoing. If all parties were being treated equally, anyone male sex with another man only in the last year would be excluded from giving blood. This allows more than enough time for the person concerned to seroconvert and be picked up by the transfusion service standard checks and procedures.

    The weak point in the screening process is that those recently infected who have yet to seroconvert MAY not be identified as having been infected and this is what the 12 month ban on certain groups tries to prevent.

    However the (male) gay community has a lifetime ban which cannot be medically justified, because we like everyone would seroconvert and present detectible antibodies in a similar timescale as those who have sex with prostitutes, those who have had sex with anyone from a high risk area, haemophiliacs, intravenous drug users and anybody else for that matter.

    Checks are in place for all blood that is donated and infected blood from gay people is no different from infected blood from straight people, black or white, and from which every country they come from and where every they have been having sex. It is not under the current system treated as such.

    The checks that are in place to stop other higher risk groups infecting the world at large with horrible illnesses work just as well on gay blood as straight blood and the limitations in place to stop them doing so would work just as well on us as well.

  11. Its just raw homophobia they test the blood for HIV anyway. So it doesn’t make a difference if someone has HIV or not because they test for it.

  12. There isn’t really a ban on donating blood. All anyone has to do is lie and say that they haven’t had sex with men. It’s that simple. for this reason alone the ban against gay men is stupid.

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