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Lib Dems say 12-month gay blood ban must be lifted

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  1. Completely, completely ridiculous. Has it not occurred to them that people are not always honest when they are asked about their sexual behaviour?? I’m hardly uninterested in gay equality but protecting people from HIV and hepatitis infection feels like a pretty worthwhile aim too.

    1. Erm.. has it not occurred to you people might not be being honest NOW? And thus the whole reliance on honesty now or in the future is thus futile? As Chris Ward said during the debate today “There is no test for gay”

    2. The suggestion that lying is going on is frankly ludicrous. Why would anyone deliberately lie about their sexual behaviour just in order to give blood? Are they so desperate to give blood that they would risk the health of those they are donating to and who they are (apparently) so keen to help? I find it a tad incredible never mind wilfully irresponsible. I doubt many gay men would be prepared to do that just to make a political point.

      In any event, giving blood isn’t exactly an easy process which is one of the reasons so few do it. You have to complete a massive form giving details of your health and sexual behaviour, travel experiences etc. You are then invited for an appointment. All that what happen if they lift this ban is that a de facto selection process will go on i.e. if they see that you have engaged in unprotected sex or anything else that might have led to exposure to blood borne infection, they won’t invite you to donate blood – simple as that; this already applies to straights. They don’t take blood of anyone and then test it. There is some screening before you’re even allowed to give blood. I assume that this is to keep costs down aside from anything else.

  2. Spanner1960 20 Sep 2011, 12:45pm

    Everyone is going to jump on the bandwagon here until the point where an innocent person, maybe a child, contracts HIV from a blood donation. Then all hell will break loose, fingers will be pointing at everyone and the usual crap about “Lessons will be learned.” – Knee-jerk reactions will ensue and a large majority of the population will be banned permanently from donating.

    This is discrimination, I agree, but it is not based out of any malicious nature, but simply common sense and trying to eliminate high risk groups. That’s just the way life is, but better a few gay men feel a bit peeved than others contracting a terminal illness just to appease their misguided paranoia.

    (and before someone screams “human rights”, just think about the rights of those that may be at risk of losing at least ten years off their lifespan.)

    1. Jock S. Trap 20 Sep 2011, 12:57pm

      So are we to ignore the people that have contracted HIV whilst there has been a lifetime ban, then? Don’t they matter because it happened whilst a ban was in place?

      The only knee – jerk reactions are your own. it’s bigotted and discriminating. All donations should be judged Equally on behaviour not orientation. With the better, stricter blood screening I fully expect any problems will reduce just like it has in countries like Spain and Italy when this kind of ban was removed.

      The fact you stay too keen to keep Gay men singled out when most aren’t risky and a lot are in committed relationships and should be able to help save lives not be excluded. This way also it should mean that those who do have risky sex stay unable to donate regardless of if they are Gay or Straight, male or female.

      1. Jock S. Trap 20 Sep 2011, 1:00pm

        Your knee-jerk reaction reminds me of historical marvels in medicine when vaccines or anti-biotics were first created and people got all irrational and panicky because they thought they were all going to turn into cattle because of how such a vaccine or cure was made. It does not favours, no justice for people nor the medical profession and most of all, prehaps stop judging everyone from your own warped standard. We’re not all sluts!

      2. Spanner1960 20 Sep 2011, 1:34pm

        They should be based on whatever criteria map the biggest risks. If that happens top be gender, colour, race, geography, lifestyle, income or whatever, it is irrelevant.

        What is needed is a simple set of questions that determine if you are a potential risk, or fit into a category that is, whether you are a risk or not. Currently the two biggest risks continue to be gay men a and sub-Saharan black Africans. That is not being homophobic or racist, it is a simple fact. Deal with it.

        1. As a group this may be true. But groups don’t donate, individuals do. Perhaps it would thus be more scientifically rigorous to sort out based on individual circumstances rather than on a group basis?

          And before you say “How can we rely on people’s honesty?” that’s exactly what we do now. Thus not really a huge change when it comes to MSM

        2. Patrick Lyster-Todd 20 Sep 2011, 4:35pm

          What absolute, ill-informed and prejudiced drivel! I really tire of comments such as these on here which are so evidently not based on a clear examination and understanding of the facts. In truth one of the main reasons why a ban – and that’s what it is – remains is that the experts are also worried about the danger of Hepatitis C getting into the blood supply. This is certainly not the sole preserve of gay men. Restrictions on donating blood should and must be made on an informed analysis of an individual’s sexual and lifestyle behaviour and not their sexuality.

          1. Spanner1960 21 Sep 2011, 2:46pm

            Tell me Patrick, how many people do you know that will openly admit to barebacking?
            Or even for that matter own up to being HIV+?

            Yet go on the gay chatrooms and it is heaving with anonymous people that don’t give a toss about their own, or anybody else’s health. It is just so fcking typical that everyone on here berates my arguments, because ultimately the majority of gay men are a bunch of self-aggrandising, egotistic selfish tossers that would rather see somebody die than give up some apparent “right” because they are too fcking po-faced to admit that their peers may be having unsafe sex.

          2. Jock S. Trap 24 Sep 2011, 11:14am

            Wow, you really are an angry, bitter little man ain’t ya?

            Again this has nothing with you singling out Gay men but everything to do with your own destructive qualities.

  3. Spanner1960 20 Sep 2011, 1:30pm

    What’s going on with this site?
    There were 6 comments all anti-donation, and within an hour they have all been wiped.
    Is this a conspiracy, or just simple incompetence?

  4. DanielPaulo 20 Sep 2011, 6:31pm

    I don’t think it matters who donates the blood, because in the end the blood is tested for anything before it is given to a patient/ placed in the blood bank… At least that’s how it works in my country.

    1. Spanner1960 21 Sep 2011, 2:48pm

      Daniel: Don’t be so naive. No test can completely eliminate the HIV virus if it has not managed to gestate. It can be weeks or even months before the virus is detectable, by which time the blood is useless.

      1. Jock S. Trap 24 Sep 2011, 11:17am

        Sadly it is only you that is completely naive. You choose to ignore the facts from around the world and at the end of the day why don’t you just do a living will that states you do not wish to have any blood that has been donated. That way you can die happy knowing you only killed yourself with your scaremongering bigotry.

  5. Where on earth did the 1 to 2 million new donors figure come from?

    Let’s assume 10% of men are gay. There are 60 million or so people in the U.K. So there are 30 million or so men, of which 3 million or so are gay. Some will be too young, some will be too old, some will have non-infectious diseases or be on medications that mean they need to be excluded, and many will despite being eligible not actually donate (just like straight men at the moment). Yet despite all of that, someone claimed that between 1 and 2 in 3 of all gay men in the U.K. would donate blood.

    A case of PinkNews mindlessly reporting a statement without considering how absurd it is, perhaps?

    1. Zoe O'Connell 21 Sep 2011, 2:35pm

      I suspect the word “potential” is missing from there. (I.e “potential new donors”)

      Although that actually sounds a little low, given many women will now be able to give blood too. (Those in relationships with men whose previous sexual encounter with a man is more than a year ago)

      1. Unmfortunately only 2% of the population donates blood. I suspect the same proportion of gay men would do the same if there were no restictions. Guestimating the size of the gay population is always tricky but the ONS puts it at around 1.5 to 2% of people who identify as lesbian or gay. Not huge numbers I’m affraid.

        1. Zoe O'Connell 22 Sep 2011, 7:27am

          The ONS poll was about identity, not activity – the number of men who have ever had sex with another man is more than just those who identify as gay/bisexual.

          But yes, too few people give blood.

  6. jessiepeace 20 Sep 2011, 10:05pm

    They are trying to make the blood donning process a more trust worthy. If we discriminate against groups of people they are more likely to lie, because it is a system that distinctively says they are not welcome. Gay men may have a higher risk of HIV but that simply means people are more aware of the consequences of unprotected sex.
    The fact is straight people can catch HIV too, we are not going to stop everyone from giving blood.

  7. Well done to the LibDem activists on this vote

  8. Can someone clarify whether or not all donated blood is tested and treated to eliminate anything dangerous?

    1. All blood is tested and disposed of if it is found to contain HIV.
      The problem with the tests (for all blood borne virus) is that they have a window period where tests cannot detect the virus in a person’s blood because the tests are not sensitive enough to find small amounts of virus. For HIV that window period is quite small and at the beginning of a person’s infection. Unfortunately, for Hep B there are two window periods. There is a window period at the beginning of the infection and at the end of an infection. This is because a person’s body can eliminate the Hep B virus naturally with no medical intervention. As the person eliminates the virus from their body, the level of Hep B virus in the blood drops and again becomes undetectable. This second window period takes a year. Some people never eliminate Hep B from their body at all. Some people die because of Hep B infection. And this is why the ban has been set for a year.

    2. Zoe O'Connell 21 Sep 2011, 2:30pm

      As I understand it, there are two HIV tests – an antibody one and a more rigurous one. All blood is tested with the antibody test, which is problematic for two reasons: it’s more prone to false negatives and folk can have the antibodies from vaccines.

      One element of the motion was to call for all blood to be fully screened, not just antibodies.

      1. All blood is tested with Nucleic Acid Amplification Technology (NAT) testing and smaller donation pool sizes which increases sensitivity. This is the most sensitive test and looks for the virus not the antibodies. I would have thought the Liberal Party (whom I usually respect very much) would have done their research on this issue before writting the motion.

        1. The motion points out that donations are not individually tested for HIV which is correct – the minimum guidelines for transfusion services is to test for anti-HIV1 and anti-HIV2. NAT is done using pooling, not on individual donations – and it is not a requirement.

          There is also inconsistency with regards to what testing is applied. It is perfectly sound to suggest that the minimum guidelines should be updated to test for the antigen as a minimum. That way we can be sure that this happens across the board.

  9. I agree with the Lib Dems on this point, there is no reason that there should be a 12 month no sex period for Gay men, if they do that they should do it for Straight people and Gay Women too. I also agree that it would be better it it was to do with your sexual lifestyle because there are people that have risky sexual lifestyles (such as BDSM) and we are more at risk of contracting something, so that is what they initial test should ask about then the ones with the riskier ones should have an initial blood test before they give blood, or at least that’s my opinion on it anyway.

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