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Public meeting to be held today on gay blood ban

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  1. I’m sorry, but I really do not see this as an issue worth fighting.

    As they estimate that one in between 6 and 8 Gay men in London is HIV, arguing that we should be allowed to give blood, is not a worthwhile issue.

    I understand that the majority are not HIV and that all blood is tested, but there are bigger issues out there. Such as the attacks and murders of gay people.

  2. Simon Murphy 27 Oct 2009, 12:10pm

    “It is thought that one in 25 UK gay men have HIV, with this figure rising to one in ten in London and one in eight in Brighton.”

    And how does this compare to the infection rates of people living in Britain but born in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Apparently there are even higher rates of infection among that group.

    But there is not a lifetime, blanket ban on anyone who’s ever been with such a person – merely a 12 month ban.

    The Blood Service is very keen not to be regarded as racist you see. The fact that there is a clear double standard between their treatement of gay men and African men shows quite clearly that they are discriminatory.

    They have a choice to either lift the lifetime blanket ban on donations from gay men; or they can introduce a lifetime ban on anyone who has ever been with someone from sub-Saharan African within the last 30 years.

    I’m just really appalled that the Terence Higgins Trust has been so support of this homophobic double standard. I guess they are like Stonewall – they have grown too fond of their comfortable, privileged position to give a damn about the people they pretend to represent.

  3. Simon Murphy 27 Oct 2009, 12:15pm

    No1: Charles: “As they estimate that one in between 6 and 8 Gay men in London is HIV, arguing that we should be allowed to give blood, is not a worthwhile issue.”

    The estimate is 10% of gay men in London; 12.5% in Brighton and 4% in the country as a whole.

    Those rates are similar (if not less) than the infection rates of sub-Saharan Africans.

    There is no lifetime, blanket ban on people who have ever been with Africans.

    I don’t really care 1 way or the other as I’d be barred from donating blood for other reasons other than being gay. But it’s a clear double standard.

    If they really feel the necessity to stop gay men donating because of the HIV risk; then why on earth are they endangering the population with equally risky African blood?

  4. Barry, Northampton 27 Oct 2009, 12:40pm

    If they don’t want my blood just because of who I sleep with when there is a major shortage then fcuk them, that is what say now and always have.

  5. @ Charles: Whilst there are plenty of other big issues for us gay people to worry about, I do think this is also an issue worth fighting for. Remember that giving of blood saves lives. Many lives are lost due to inadequate stocks of the correct blood type.

    I’d love to be allowed to give blood. I am reguarly tested for all STIs, I just consider it being a part of being responsible about my own health and the health of others. I don’t have nor have ever tested positive for any STI, something I put down to responsible sexual behaviour & practice. My blood type is A negative. That is apparently a blood group that is in short supply in the UK. I have it, I’m willing to give it, I’m STI-free, and so it makes no sense at all that my blood should be banned and thus potentially a life might not be saved with otherwise could be.

  6. “It is thought that one in 25 UK gay men have HIV, with this figure rising to one in ten in London and one in eight in Brighton.”

    Please! What is the source of this information?

  7. David North 27 Oct 2009, 12:49pm

    What irritates me about this “blanket ban” is that it automatically assumes that all gay men run around sh@gg!ng like rabbits.

    Personally, I have had 2 partners over 18 years and have been fully tested for all and any STD’s, yet the simple fact that I am a gay man prevents me from donating.

    Im quite sure, “NOT” that heterosexual men, when lining up to give blood clearly state to the medical personnel that they spent the previous 7 nights, bonking whichever slapper was willing to take them home from a club.

    Yet, as they are heterosexual, they are accepted by default.

    Discrimination pure and simple, as all blood is tested anyway.

  8. John (Derbyshire) 27 Oct 2009, 2:07pm

    Judging by what I have seen- I would say that there is widespread unsafe sex going on between men-ALL men-not necessarily those declaring themselves as gay. I personally-if given the choice-would decline a transfusion of a gay man`s blood.

  9. “Yes, it’s discrimination. Live with it”

    your gay you can’t buy a house.
    We don’t want you shopping for food here your gay!

    Live with it……

  10. Harthacanute 27 Oct 2009, 2:53pm

    Call be whatever you like, but until testing technology catches up with Mr Tatchell’s selfish expectations, and is capable of reliably detecting an infection within 24 hours, I will be supporting the continuation of the ban.

    You only have to look at the tragic statistics coming out of countries such as Italy and Spain, who have done away with the ban, to see how one single infected donation slipping through the net can infect very many people needlessly.

    Our system may be crude, but it is effective and no-one has found a better one.

  11. Vicki Morley 27 Oct 2009, 3:06pm

    The NHS campaigns about needing more blood all the time. If it’s that vital – just let anyone donate blood and simply make them have an HIV test. It may cost money, but surely a little cost to save lives?

    And I fully respect the fact that HIV is a major issue for blood donation, and it is more prominent in gay men than any other gender/sexual denomination, but still – if it’s HIV they really are worried about – test everyone, don’t prohibit gay men from donating and give everyone else the benefit of the doubt.

  12. David North 27 Oct 2009, 3:39pm

    ROBN.

    What a lot of unadulterated crap.

    It’s nothing to do with selfishness.

    It’s all to do with a discriminatory ban.

    Your argument is specious.

    I work in medicine.

    Do you think I should not be allowed to as I am in the same grouping as all od those who are gay tarts.

    Should we prevent all of the “dirty” gays from being near children.

    Given your argument we should not allow any gay nurses, doctors, etc etc.

  13. David North: Well both I and Simon Murphy are banned for life from giving blood. Because we are gay? No. Because we are both Type I diabetic.

    Is that discriminatory? Yes.
    Is it the right thing to do? Yes.

    This argument has f_ck all to do with gay rights, and everything to do with taking risks. You work in medicine, so you ought to know above anyone about spreading infection and minimising risks. HIV+ people working with others is generally not a risk. Giving blood is. Get a f_cking grip man and grow up!

  14. Those who support the removal of the blood ban seem to be more interested in defining themselves as good gays than recognising that there are sound reasons for the ban. Gay men are the group most affect by HIV in the UK; there is a high rate of incident HIV infections in gay men; even the most advanced HIV testing technology cannot detect very recent infections; an HIV infected donation entered the blood supply in the US – the donor was a GAY MAN WHO LIED ABOUT HIS HIGH RISK BEHAVIOUR; gay men have high rates of other blood-borne infections which in their own right justify a ban.

  15. This is not a fight worth fighting.
    I can understand their concerns.

  16. Harthacanute 27 Oct 2009, 5:54pm

    My take (part 1 of 3):

    It’s all to do with a discriminatory ban.

    Of course it is about discrimination – but what is the motive for that discrimination and is all discrimination automatically unfair and homophobic?

    When you look at the testing technology (which really isn’t that smart when it comes to picking up a recent infection) and the sexual behaviour of gay and bisexual men, as reported by Sigma’s annual Gay Men’s Sexual Health Survey (which shows less than half of those of us who are sexually active always use a condom and over 40% of us have had recent unprotected casual anal sex with a man of unknown HIV status; yet over 40% of us have never had an HIV test, over 80% haven’t had an HIV test in the last 12 months and more than 30% of HIV-positive MSMs have had unprotected sex with someone of unknown HIV status) you start to have a very hard time making a case that the ban is homophobic rather than simply being a perfectly rational and behaviour-based discrimination.

  17. Harthacanute 27 Oct 2009, 5:55pm

    My take (part 2 of 3):

    In Sweden they experimented with a more complex self-assessment questionnaire to assess the viability of doing away with the ban. It got so complicated that donations actually went down – because such large numbers of people who were a low risk started assessing themselves as ineligible to donate – and the number of donations from high-risk individuals went up. They had to revert to the crude ban – not because of homophobia, but because the amount of available blood decreased and the risk to the supply increased astronomically.

    Crunch the numbers on unilaterally ending the lifetime ban (which, contrary to what most campaigners would have us believe, does not only apply to men who have sex with men) and the price of it is a marginal increase in blood supply in return for the chances of someone becoming infected, from an undetectable (i.e. recent) HIV infection entering the blood supply, going up by something like 8,000% – in other words, it would go from being a thankfully overdue rarity to being a regular certainty with a consequential loss in public confidence.

    The numbers wouldn’t look so bad if one unit of donated blood would only affect one recipient – but most blood is batched and processed into blood products, so one infected unit can contaminate dozens of units which are turned into products to treat maybe a hundred different people (just look at how many haemophiliacs in the UK became infected – not from blood transfusions but from by a few batches of processed Factor 8 blood products).

  18. Harthacanute 27 Oct 2009, 5:56pm

    My take (part 3 of 3):

    That is why I think the ban is perfectly reasonable until such time that better affordable testing technology is in place. That is why most MSMs don’t argue for the ban to be lifted and that is also why neither THT nor the British HIV Association (the UK professional association representing medical professionals in HIV care) are calling for the ban to be lifted. (and for those knocking THT for what they perceive as a homophobic stance; do also try to remember that they also have to represent the large number of people who became infected with HIV through contaminated blood products rather than through their sexual activity).

    Many countries impose lifetime exclusions on anyone from Britain donating blood – because of the risk of mad cow disease – so should we also start a campaign claiming that they are irrationally Anglophobic?

    Given your argument we should not allow any gay nurses, doctors, etc etc

    An absolute straw man fallacy of an argument if ever I heard one – there is just no way that you can rationally argue that to be the logical extrapolation of Rob’s position.

    (sorry if this results in multiple postings, but I am having all sorts of problems posting)

  19. “What irritates me about this “blanket ban” is that it automatically assumes that all gay men run around sh@gg!ng like rabbits”

    Well that is the attitude promoted each week by the likes of Jonathan Ross and his house band.

  20. dis⋅crim⋅i⋅na⋅tion [di-skrim-uh-ney-shuhn]
    noun. Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favour of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.

    As Harthacanute pointed out, discrimination is not necessarily a bad thing. Generations of left-wing nutters have taken on the word to give it a bad press. It merely means to separate.

    Given the stats in the article claim that between 4% and 10% of gay men are HIV+, would you have unprotected sex with anyone you weren’t sure of their status? No. So why the hell would you allow them to donate blood when the percentage and the risks are identical?

  21. Harthacanute 27 Oct 2009, 7:42pm

    Although sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust has supported the ban, others such as gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and the National AIDS Trust believe it is discriminatory.

    Just to point out an inaccuracy in the article: It states that NAT thinks the ban is discriminatory – this isn’t strictly speaking true and they certainly haven’t said that the ban should be repealed. They have simply said that the ban should be reviewed to see if on the basis of the latest evidence it is possible to lift it (which is actually also pretty much what THT have said).

  22. Since we are in a minority, 1-10% of he population unlike Heterosexuals 90 – 99% of the population . . . Do we know how many Hetersexuals are HIV+ . . . and are potentially blood doners.

    In Africa where HIV infections and AIDs is the bigest killer of heterosexuals . . . what percentage of our heterosexual community in the UK is black African and has been exposed to the virus?

  23. “Gay men”? . . . the world is more complex

    . . . I do not want to worry you but these are not the only men that have sex with men:

    * Bisexual
    * Bicurious
    * Men who have sex with men (Closet heterosexuals)

    . . . Also have sex with men

  24. JohnK: The term is “Men who have sex with men” – and some are none of those. They are technically heterosexual. Sailors and Prisoners are two groups that spring to mind.

    “Any man who has ever had sex with another man is banned for life from donating, along with women who have had sex with them.”

    This isn’t a matter of sexuality, merely sexual contact, which is what I’ve been saying all along.

  25. RobN and Charles are foolish, to say the least.

    RobN, if you wish to plunder dictionaries in a foolhardy attempt to reinforce your bizarre logic, perhaps you should look at further definitions other than the very first one you happen upon: “The making of distinctions prejudicial to people of a different race or colour from oneself; racial discrimination” is but one other example, hence discrimination can be prejudicial rather than merely discernable.

    To say that every gay man is highly likely to be HIV+ is pejoratively discriminatory, as it confers upon gay men a social behaviour distinct from their individuality; in other words, it presupposes that by the mere happenstance of one being gay and male, one is hard-wired to be promiscuous, hedonistic, brazen and unconcerned with deadly infections. This is unabashed homophobic prejudice – or, if you will, anti-gay discrimination.

    The point you meekly attempt to rescue yourself with – “This isn’t a matter of sexuality, merely sexual contact” – is spurious: gay men are, ipso facto, only concerned with having sex with other gay men; the language used is a poor attempt to sound as non-prejudiced as possible.

    It is abhorrent that every gay man is forbidden from donating blood because some gay men are lotharios. The argument that lifting the ban will lead to an increase in HIV infections is patently false: presumably a ban on HIV+ persons donating blood shall continue to be enforced, therefore any person who is infected or has been engaged in risky behaviour will simply have to lie and be able to donate. The only possible way to prevent all gay men from donating is to test for homosexuality – a clear invasion of privacy and would lead to clear prejudiced discrimination. One supposes that HIV screening will be commonplace before homosexuality screening emerges.

    Unless I have woken up in Stalinist Russia, I am still a free Englishman, and as such do not deserve to be discriminated against and told that because I was born gay, I am a filthy, hedonistic pervert with no regard for my own or others’ safety – least of all by the state or its orifices.

    The arguments against the ban are numerous and persuasive, and I have yet to see any logic that should allow the ban’s continuation.

  26. Voidal, you are now being disingenous. The ban adresses high risk groups. If you feel that it should be expanded to include Africans or those who have had sex with Africans, then by all means say so. However, to relax the ban because of feelings of being considered promiscous, is a spurrious argument. Let use statistics and do the ‘greater good for the greater number’ Most would rather risk injury to the feelings of a few, than endanger public health.

  27. ‘In Africa where HIV infections and AIDs is the bigest killer of heterosexuals . .’
    This is incorrect. Malaria is the biggest killer of people, both gay and Straight, in Africa

  28. Niki, you sound like a Socialist/Commie. Unfortunately, I am of the deepest conviction that one should not be discriminated against because of one’s affiliation or sleight of chanceful birth. You are using outdated arguments that have been in place since the introduction of this aberrant ban that has no relevance today.

    How anyone can espouse the view that a man who had sex with another man 15 years ago should be forbidden from ever donating blood is wanton insanity.

    Asserting that all men who have sex with other men, even protected, monogamous sex, should be banned from donating blood is an absurd prejudice.

    The ban is ineffective anyway, as all one has to do to circumvent the restrictions os tick the box “I AM HETERO” (or words to that effect) and let the little rascals in the blood van suck away.

    All blood is screened anyway, so the continuation of this ban that relies on form-filling is ludicrous

  29. Niki, “Most would rather risk injury to the feelings of a few, than endanger public health”

    This is so laughable. The obvious counter argument is that since blood donation relies upon the charitable goodwill of donors and is not a requirement, it is much kinder for everyone that no one’s feeling are injured in the name of ‘public health’, and therefore all donation should be stopped until such time that a fair and unjust system of donation can exist that does not hurt individuals. Hurting individuals goes against the Hippocratic Oath and is not worthy of any nurse, doctor or medical professional.

    Blood donation is a conscious free choice of kindness, it is not a market commodity that can be traded, rejected or stockpiled as required, and is not subject to the demand of those who benefit from donated blood

  30. Derr just not unjust :D

  31. Harthacanute 28 Oct 2009, 9:39am

    Do we know how many Hetersexuals are HIV+ . . . and are potentially blood doners.

    What we do know is that well over 70% of those heterosexuals who are diagnosed HIV-positive acquired HIV whilst overseas, which is why anyone of any race who has been sexually active in parts of the world where AIDS/HIV is common (including all countries in Africa) are excluded from donating for 12 months).

  32. Harthacanute 28 Oct 2009, 10:02am

    Asserting that all men who have sex with other men, even protected, monogamous sex, should be banned from donating blood is an absurd prejudice.

    Really? Monogamy is a state of mind, or a personal belief – not a physical certainty. You may think you are in a monogamous relationship, but your partner may have other ideas and you’d be amazed how many people (myself included) become infected with HIV when they are supposedly in a monogamous relationship with an HIV-negative partner.

    You truth, unpalatable as it may be to some sensitive souls, is that you can make sworn declarations about your own behaviour, but can you really make sworn declarations about your partner’s behaviour .. and whether it was protected?

    And when you say protected sex – does that include oral sex? I very much doubt it; but have you stopped to consider that although it may be rare , oral sex is actually a perfectly viable route for HIV transmission?

  33. Voidal: Your rabid, right-on selfish rant just summarises the typical attitude of so many gay men. You don’t give a flying sh!t about who gets infected, just as long as you have your damn rights.

    “To say that every gay man is highly likely to be HIV+ is pejoratively discriminatory”
    The article states between 4% and 10% of gay men are registered HIV+, and the chances are there are many more who are not yet diagnosed.

    You obviously haven’t read my comment (22) properly, because you can see a direct correlation to having unsafe sex which is identical to the risk of donating infected blood. You wouldn’t be willing to shag anyone without a condom, but you expect the general public to effectively do the same.

    Additionally, gay men are more likely to contract HIV due to anal sex, which is far more risky than vaginal sex. (and please don’t give me that straw-man argument about straights having anal sex – they have a choice, we don’t.)

    There are none so blind as those that *will* not see.

  34. Gay men continue to get HIV in ever increasing numbers.

    Perhaps, in the real world, we should look at our own behaviour before bleating about prejudice and recinding the ban.

    As far as I am concerned it is an issue of risk and has nothing to do with homophobia.

  35. 21stCenturySpirituality 28 Oct 2009, 3:55pm

    A heterosexual man can have hundreds of sexual encounters with women, including prostitutes, without necessarily using a condom every time and he can give blood. A gay man can be in a monogomous relationship with the same man for several years, have regular negative test results for HIV and other STDs and he cant give blood ever. Now where is the sense in that?

  36. As both a nurse and a gay man, I can see both sides of the debate but I believe that patient safety must come first. After all, giving blood is not a right, it is a voluntary gift and as it is required for the survival of critically ill patients, safety needs to come first.

    The available statistics show that gay and bisexual men are still at high risk of HIV. The vast majority of heterosexual transmissions have occurred from sexual contact abroad, which is why heterosexuals who have had sex with someone from a high risk area, such as Africa, are banned for 12 months. I do not believe that this should mean all Sub-Saharan African people living in Britain should be banned – after all, if you live here, you’re chances of contracting HIV from heterosexual intercourse is greatly reduced. It also has to be weighed up against the fact that ethnic minorities have much rarer blood types and there is a greater demand of their blood to treat Black and Asian patients.

    Also, the technology is simply not advanced enough – there is still a three month window period for testing, which is a ridiculously long length of time so it is only right that additional safe guards are put in place.

    I do think there need to be more stringent questions asked of heterosexuals with regards to their sexual activity, but again it comes down to risk assessment – will this lead to a decrease in potential donors as a result with no real benefit from the reduction of infection (and remember, this includes not just HIV but also Hepatitis B & C and syphilis).

    Ultimately, the ban is based on available statistics (and the Sigma survey does make for depressing reading), so it needs to be the numbers that change before the ban can be reconsidered. Surely it would be far more productive and worthwhile if the energy put into fighting the ban was put into improving sex education for LGBT young people, improving testing rates and increasing condom use throughout the gay community?

  37. 21stCenturySpirituality: “A heterosexual man can have hundreds of sexual encounters with women”

    Name me *one*
    I can name you loads of gay guys that have.

    It’s called ‘statistics’, and it a very well-honed accurate science. Yes there may be those that don’t fit the norm, but we really don’t care about the odd fat little queen. It’s ‘the law of averages’ and it says that you, me and all the other gay men on here are not worth putting millions of peoples lives at risk.

    My argument is this issue shouldn’t be saying “Who we are banning”, but more accurately “Who we ARE allowing”.

    ie: No men who have sex with men, intravenous drug users, prostitutes, sub-Saharan Africans, many Asians, haemophiliacs, diabetics, anaemics, those having contracted Hepatitis, Malaria, Cholera, Typhoid and many other long-term diseases and deficiencies. Or would you rather we let them in too?

  38. Harthacanute 28 Oct 2009, 5:17pm

    A heterosexual man can have hundreds of sexual encounters with women, including prostitutes, without necessarily using a condom every time and he can give blood.

    Really? Have you ever taken the time to read the full exclusion criteria then? If you had you would know how wrong that statement is.

  39. Harthacanute, “well over 70% of those heterosexuals who are diagnosed HIV-positive acquired HIV whilst overseas, which is why anyone of any race who has been sexually active in parts of the world where AIDS/HIV is common (including all countries in Africa) are excluded from donating for 12 months).”

    Only 12 months? They should get a lifetime ban like a man who has slept with another man – an equally risky endeavour apparantly.

    RobN, “you, me and all the other gay men on here are not worth putting millions of peoples lives at risk”

    :-o Sounds like you’d be more at home on the Daily Mail.

    Harthacanute, “Monogamy is a state of mind, or a personal belief – not a physical certainty. You may think you are in a monogamous relationship, but your partner may have other ideas and you’d be amazed how many people (myself included) become infected with HIV when they are supposedly in a monogamous relationship with an HIV-negative partner.”

    So your assertion is that gay men are less faithful than straight men?

    Between you and RobN there is no need for indignent religious bigots wielding archane stereotypes.

    RobN, “You don’t give a flying sh!t about who gets infected, just as long as you have your damn rights.”

    My rights to not be automatically deemed a public health risk because of the way I was born?

    The phrase “self-hatred” is quite apposite here.

  40. 21stCenturySpirituality 29 Oct 2009, 3:30am

    I stand corrected Harthacanute but my larger point still stands, I think, which was basically that a gay man can live like a nun and still not be allowed to give blood. He can take every precaution, have a longterm partner, have regular testd for STDs, practice safer sex, the whole shbang and still not be allowed to give blood.

    Weve all seen the emotive ads and what decent human being wouldnt want to help. I presume the same ban is in effect on organ donation. Is it?

  41. Voidal: Well it demonstrates exactly how much you know about me if you accuse me of being religious. I a devout and lifelong atheist.
    As for self-hatred, I quite like myself. It’s just sanctimonious, whinging, nit-picking little turds like you that get up my nose.
    Anyone that makes the vaguest of derogatory attitude towards the so-called “gay community”gets your dig. People like you are picking the bones of the 60’s gay rights movement, but frankly have very little to actually moan about, so they complain about the minutiae just to confirm to everyone they are still here and can justify their continuing existence instead of actually enjoying what their predecessors have gained.

  42. Harthacanute 29 Oct 2009, 12:07pm

    but my larger point still stands, I think, which was basically that a gay man can live like a nun and still not be allowed to give blood

    No it doesn’t – because if a gay man had lived like a nun and never had sex he would be allowed to donate blood.

    So your assertion is that gay men are less faithful than straight men?

    No that isn’t my assertion – and only a complete cretin could interpret it as that. The fact remains that most supposedly monogamous relationships (gay or straight) have at least one episode of infidelity. FACT, so kindly give up this pathetic childish game you play of trying to twist words.

  43. Harthacanute 29 Oct 2009, 12:11pm

    I presume the same ban is in effect on organ donation. Is it?

    You presume wrongly then. The only tissue an MSM can’t donate is a retina – this is because far more reliable tissue biopsies can be taken from the organs (but not retinas) in order to confirm HIV-status.

  44. Alex Pollard 1 Nov 2009, 6:55pm

    “It is thought that one in 25 UK gay men have HIV, with this figure rising to one in ten in London and one in eight in Brighton.” !!

    This is factually inaccurate. Common sense should lead any critical reader to dispute this exaggeration.
    The 2005/6 research these misrepresentations are based on concluded that approx 1 in 8 (13.7% in Brighton) of SCENE USING men in a wide variety of gay venues had HIV.
    This is not the same as all ‘UK gay men’. Scene using gay men in the major urban centres of major gay cities are a group likely to over represent people with HIV.
    It’s worrying that supposed journalists in the gay media are so casual and/or sensationalist with their stories that they misrepresent significant facts like this.

    A little more professionalism please PinkNews!

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