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Northern Ireland: Health minister retains ban on gay people donating blood, faces growing criticism

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  1. Stephen Glenn 17 Jun 2012, 8:57pm

    Oh dear. Kieran McCarthy is a Mr McCarthy not a Ms.

  2. He is in the DUP. Really that is all we need to know. A backwards, nasty man who doesn’t deserve a position of such responsibility

  3. His name sounds like something you’d hear at the clap clinic: “I’m sorry to tell you you’ve got poots.”

  4. I think this is wrong. As Sue Ramsey says, in the article:

    “We are crying out for blood donation… we have had to bring in blood from England, Scotland and Wales because we need it… There are people here willing to give blood and anybody who has given blood, it will be screened, so we shouldn’t be going down this line of his own prejudice coming into play.”

    For me, that says it all.

    1. That is roughly equivalent to Manchester importing blood from Birmingham. Even if it were true that there is enough gay men who are not high-risk and would actually donate blood to prevent this necessity then it’s a pretty week reason. Is that the best Ramsey can come up with?

      1. Even if this policy only stopped a single person from giving blood, it’s wrong. Every drop of blood which is donated is needed and the more people who can donate the better. I think Sue Ramsey’s argument is a good one.

        By all means screen individual blood donors and question them on their sexual activity and all other relevent information, but there is no need for a blanket ban on a particular group of people. There will be plenty of gay men who pose no risk but still can’t donate because of this policy.

        1. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 3:53pm

          And if this blood infected just one person, would you like to be the one to tell them they have contracted a terminal disease just to appease your self-righteous gay rights equality?

          1. According to scientic analysis by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA:

            “if gay and bisexual men who practised safe sex were allowed to donate, one HIV-positive blood donation would be likely to slip through the clinical screening process once every 5,769 years.”

            That’s once between now and the year 7781.

            This evidence was also given to a Tasmanian enquiry into blood donation in 2008.

            The enquiry considered moving from the N Ireland system to a system not concentrating on orientation but on risk. It found the system which considered orientation a risk (regardless of behaviour) was likely to have a HIV-positive blood donation would be likely to slip through the clinical screening process 197 years.

            Its clear that, whether your brain can accept it or not, the science proves risk based donation is safer than orientation being viewed as a risk.

          2. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 4:12pm

            Oh give it a rest with your cut and paste crap Elaine.
            That stuff is crap already. It is NOT safe sex, it is SAFER.
            Were you aware that condoms are designed and tested as contraceptives? ie: they prevent conception, and bloody great fat sperm getting through? The HIV virus is 10,000 times smaller than a human sperm, so it’s like trying to strain milk with a fcking tennis racket.

            On top of that, you are referring to all the men that use a condom – what about the ones that dot?
            What about the ones that aren’t even aware they are infected?
            What about all those that LIE about their sexual exploits?

            The point is, we can get by without gay men’s blood, but I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to tell a mother her new born baby is HIV+ simply because people like you thought it was statistically expedient.
            Now go put a frigging sock in it.

          3. Why don’t you put a sock in it – portions of my comments, may on occasion be cut and paste – not all – and this one certainly was not all cut and paste.

            I meant safer – did not type the r in a typo.

            You also made a typo – it’s don’t not dot.

            You talk well about theories of potential infection that can occur. Many of them extremely rare.

            However, what you do not address is that those rare occurances also occur in heterosexuals – who are a growing risk group especially between the age of 16-25. How do you tackle this if your risk analysis is to blanket ban – do we ban all 16-25 year olds?

            You also fail to address the science – preferring to say “give it a rest”. No, I want safety in blood donation – and that is not achieved by blanket bans.

          4. Every single donation of blood is tested, Spanner you idiot. Why are you suporting a discriminatory policy, which discrimnates against you? (assuming you’re gay)

            How many gay men are banned from giving blood when they pose NO risk because of this policy? Are you honestly saying that it’s worth being short of blood when it’s badly needed?

          5. Spanner – I can’t believe you’re happy for straight people who pose a risk to be able to give blood no problem yet think that gay men who pose NO risk still shouldn’t be allowed. It’s pretty disgusting.

          6. Amd it’s not only about my “self righteous gay rights equality” as you put it, it’s also, and more importantly, about getting more blood for hospitals to use. I can’t see how anyone can have a problem with that.

          7. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 5:52pm

            Spanner, your behaving like HIV infection through blood donation has never happened before and can only happen if ‘us damn gays’ give it?

            Fact HIV infections dramatically reduced AFTER the ban was LIFTED. In Italy, for example, over approx 10 year, went from 24 people while the ban was still Active to around 4 last couple of years.

            Care to explain why thats a bad thing or even why HIV didn’t bother you while there was a discriminating ban and yet somehow was happening and in worse figures?

            Why do you refuse to see the facts that numbers have gotten over the years and even after the ban was lifted?

  5. Paddyswurds 17 Jun 2012, 9:27pm

    Poots is an xtian fundi who believes the Earth is only 6000 years old and said so on Question Time recently Thats about all we need to know about this inbred homophobic cretin, so no surprise that that colours his political decisions…..

  6. That There Other David 17 Jun 2012, 10:06pm

    If they don’t want my O- that’s their business. I just hope it doesn’t impact anyone on the operating table that’s all.

    1. That’s exactly what will happen – some poor bugger will not get a blood transfusion when the hospitals don’t have enough all because of this bigot. I wonder what he’d think if he had an illness or injury himself and the treatment he needed was unavailable because of a decision like this had been taken by someone like him.

      1. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 3:56pm

        Or some poor bugger will contact HIV because it was not screened sufficiently. I can assure you, there has not been a case in nearly 100 years that somebody has died through lack of blood in a hospital.

        1. Or we can have 1 slip up in the current regime every 197 years as opposed to less often than one every 5000 years under the model Italy operate and Tasmania seek to move to.

          If risk is the issue. Permitting men who identify as gay but have been celibate for years and have no other reasons not to give blood – is not dealing in risk – its dealing in prejudice and is denying the blood service access to blood.

          If risk is the issue – then monogamous same sex couples should not be prohibited – monogamous heterosexuals are not. Monogamy is risk averse. You may say – “Ah! but how does anyone other than them know if they are monogamous?”. True, but how does anyone know if a heterosexual is monogamous other than them – and they can donate – so clearly it is not risk that is being judged but falsely driven prejudice – that many scientists now consider actually falsely increases the risk.

        2. So why are the blood donation services crying out for blood, Spanner? I’d rather believe them over you.

          1. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 11:55pm

            They are not.
            The official NHS website explains all the reasons, and I would believe them rather than you.
            http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/current_issues/mhsm_faq.html

          2. I believe the overwhelming evidence that shows safety improves when you consider risk based on behaviour not orientation.

            Not you …

        3. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 5:13pm

          Spanner… then that is the fault of the people screening. Your scaremongering is out of date and pointless. Perhaps less Daily Mail and more Beano.

          Shame you didn’t pipe up when MORE people were getting HIV via blood donations during the ban from supposedly heterosexuals.

          It’s typical of you and your kind to separate and stereotype but on this issue things have changed and I’m afraid, sunshine your out of touch with reality.

          For pities sake do get educated.

  7. When does merely being Gay equate to high risk behavior? On average, I’ve had just 1 serious relationship every 10 years (sigh) and I don’t play around. I’m just not into one-nighters. I must be one of the safest and healthiest humans on the planet, but I am denied for who I am, and yet, I have a straight friend that has a different women each weekend, and he can donate blood. It’s pure prejudice cloaked under “for the public good” even though science completely contradicts their arbitrary “regulations”.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 18 Jun 2012, 2:39pm

      And a lot of straight men would lie about having multiple partners when donating blood. This is nothing more than homophobia, that we’re all ‘contaminated’, one size fits all regardless. Absolutely appalling.

  8. Gay and bisexual men’s human rights are being violated by this ban. It is not supported by the evidence and it is defined (celibates excepted) by orientation.

    And why can’t we go further than the new GB rules, and have rules which relate to relevant behaviour (e.g. unprotected penetrative sex, esp. recently and/or with multiple partners)?

    But Mr McCarthy’s phrasing was a bit odd. My impression from discussions with friends and here on PN, is that very few people, including gay men believe there is an unqualified human right to donate biological material regardless of the evidence.

    Sue Ramsey put the argument better. Regardless of sexuality or gender, we all have a right to the best possible medical care, without prejudice or discrimination. When prejudice interferes with care (as seems to be the case here) then we all have a right to demand that Mr Poots should remove his cranium from his posterior and allow gay men to donate the blood NI desperately needs.

    1. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 4:06pm

      Oh go take a flying fck, you selfish little queen.
      People’s rights are going to be even more violated when they find they have contracted an incurable terminal disease just because the health service didn’t want to hurt your fcking feelings.

      Gay men are high risk. Get over it.

      1. Not all gay men are high risk. Get over it.

      2. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 5:21pm

        Charming comments from Spanner again I see.

        Shame you weren’t making more noise when people were being infected during the ban.

        Fact: less people get infected because of the removal of the ban in all countries and dramatically so… get over it.

        Straight people are high risk too. Get over it.

        Many LGBT people are Not high risk. Get over it.

        Fact… HIV is not considered a terminal disease here in 2012 but a Chronic illness that can be managed and still give an good full life expectancy. Your scaremongering is stuck in the dark HIV ages of the 1980’s… Get over it.

        Using fck, fcking and you selfish little queen, don’t make you look big, nor particularly clever but more like someone who just don’t have anything to add! Get over it!

  9. The Italian regulation which prevented blood donation by those engaged in
    “homosexual intercourse” was repealed by a decree of the Ministry of Health on the 26th January 2001.

    Now, people who have had “sexual intercourse with a high risk of transmission of STIs” are permanently excluded, while persons who have had “occasional sexual intercourse with a risk of transmission of STIs” are excluded for one year.

    Importantly, men who have sex with other men can donate blood if they have not engaged in high-risk activity.

    Italy’s figures for HIV infection via blood donation show the impact of this policy.

    In 1998-9, 24 people were infected with HIV through blood donation in Italy. In 2000-1 that figure fell to 10. In 2002-3 it was 9, in 2004, 4.

    This is partly because of improvements in clinical testing, but it is believed it is also because Italy has implemented a new donor screening policy that focuses on safety of sexual practice.

    1. This ban does not improve safety and is based purely on false prejudice and discrimination. Orientation does not determine risk.

      A promiscuous heterosexual male is a higher-risk donor than a gay or bisexual man in a monogamous relationship.

      People need blood – lets sensibly, and in a risk averse manner, ensure that maximum safe supplies are available.

      Scientific risk is determined on grounds of behaviour not orientation, race, gender etc

      1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 10:54am

        Yep, totally agree. It make sense that through better screening we have today numbers of HIV infection via blood donation decrease.

        btw your confusing… one minute your Elaine then the next your Steve… Who else?

        1. No point in reinventing the wheel – I ‘borrowed’ some of Steves post on this and added my own bits to it.

          1. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 4:14pm

            No sh|t.

          2. Well, at least the comments aren’t sh!t – whereas your knowledge of science and risk, is Spanner

          3. There’s nothing wrong with using other people’s arguments, Elaine, especially when they make sense!

  10. If he really believed his words and thought that it was people who engaged in high risk sexual behaviour that should not give blood then he would allow gay people who do not engage in high risk sexual behaviour to give blood. The average monogamous long-standing gay couple would constitute very low risk.

    1. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 4:00pm

      Yes, I personally don’t doubt your honesty,but how would you like to prove that?

      1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 5:24pm

        Perhaps you should judge everyone from your, clearly, low standards, Spanner…!

  11. Why cant countries not pass laws allowing gay people to donate blood and require screening before donation to make sure that the donor is not carrying any STI’s ect. ? And then allow those that passed screening to donate blood. That way everyone is happy.

  12. I realise I’m not going to make any friends with this comment but I’m afraid that the science really does check out on this one. Donors are not given individual risk assessments as this would be impractical, so abstract notions such as ‘promiscuity’ are not even factored in.

    The fact of the matter is that if you are a sexually active gay man then statistically you belong to a group that is FAR more likely to be infected with HIV. There may be individuals who, because of their lifestyle, are less vunerable to the chance of getting the disease, but then there may be drug users who’ve never shared needles and they are still banned (in fact sexually active gay men are MORE at risk from HIV than drug users)

    It may not be nice, but as gay men we have a responsibility to accept that HIV is a greater risk to us.

    Removing the ban on sexually active gay men, and not replacing it with individual risk assessments based on a person’s life, would increase the chance of infection.

    1. It’s simple maths – although this guy is undoubtably a homophobic prick (judging from his previous actions).

      And there’s no human right to give blood. The emphasis is ALWAYS on the health of the recepient.

      If the science is wrong then I’ll gladly endorse ending the ban, but the science is ‘t wrong – as a group we are more vunerable to HIV.

      1. Tom

        I suggest you go and learn about blood donation in Italy, Spain, Latvia and Poland.

        These are countries where behaviour based risk assessments are carried out and where orientation is in itself no bar to donating blood. A heterosexual engaging in risky behaviour would be barred as much as a homosexual would. A homosexual not engaging in risky behaviour would be accepted as much as a non risky behaving heterosexual would.

        In these countries since adopting a scientifically based (rather than prejudice based on orientation) has resulted in reduction in BBV (including HIV) from transfusion than when a less scientific broad brush approach was taken

        1. Thanks for that comment, it’s interesting to know. However I’m surprised that they have the resources to do individual risk assessments on every donor!

          1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 12:21pm

            That comment just shows how out dated your view is.

            Surely in order to be effective all individuals have risk assessments, thus proving why HIV infections in certain countries that have removed the ban, have decreased significantly.

          2. I am most concerned that the system in these countries results in a safer approach and an approach not engaging in unscientific discrimination.

            Surely, we should be seeking the safest system and thereby learning from Italy, Spain, Latvia etc

      2. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 4:03pm

        I’m totally with you on this Tom.
        Unfortunately most of the people on here cannot see beyond the ends of their dicks and take it as a personal affront to their sexuality that they are denied the opportunity to do what others do.

        All I can suggest is stop shagging about, wear a condom, wait for the statistics to change, and then maybe they might let you back in the club.

        In the meantime I’m off out to shoot some flying pigs…

    2. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 10:59am

      Sorry that doesn’t run true at all. A couple can be sexually Active in a monogamous relationship and be no risk to anyone else. Why should they be denied.

      I know many Straight men and women who have multiple partners yet are no denied.

      There needs to be a balance and in countries that have removed the ban HIV infections via blood donations have dramatically reduced.

      Take for example Italy as used above… the figure in 1998-9 it was 24 people… that was with the ban yet nobody says anything. Now the ban is lifted the number has dropped to around 4… still too many agreed but why then is it now a question of not allowing our community to give blood.

      It doesn’t make any sense.

      1. Apart from the fact that nobody can know they are in a monogamous relationship, number of partners/promiscuity is a much more complicated question than ‘are you a man who’s had sex with a man’. In order to take all those individual factors into account one would have to do an individual risk assessment on each donor. Stu in the comment above names some countries where this is done – it might be that we can use their model – but the ban is based on maths, not prejudice. If we can find a way to keep down risk and let sexually active gay men donate then great! But the current ban is based on at risk groups and the blood service’s decision that they don’t have the resources to carry out individual risk assessments. There is no implication that gay men are more promiscuous – the implication is that sexually active gay men (an easily identifiable group) are more at risk from HIV. Which we are.

        1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 12:10pm

          And yet except last year there were more new heterosexual HIV infections that homosexual.

          The risk is in all communities and therefore all communities should be equally allowed or denied giving blood.

          For some reason no-one discusses the heterosexual side of infections when it comes to blood donations, only when it comes to Gay people do we decide to scaremonger and stereotype.

          Your first sentence proves my point.. You say no-one canknow they are in a monogamous relationship etc …than ‘are you a man who has sex with men’. Straight people must surely come into that too… (however another strong argument to equal marriage if that’s going to strengthen stable relationships.

          Fact I know of many Gay, Lesbian couple who are monogamous and many of them for years and rightly they should not be denied the right to give blood, just as plenty of straight people who have many partners shouldn’t.

          1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 12:14pm

            Your kind of scaremongering is on out of date information. Testing for HIV has advanced in the last 30 odd years and certainly has improved as many other countries have proved.

            As I said no-one seem to question much those that contracted HIV during the ban from straight people with HIV. Only when the ban is discussed do we then stereotype all the LGBT community as having sex with everything that moves… something I think this vile Health minister is trying to say.

            It does us no justice to ban all for the actions of a few… esp when the opposite orientation clearly has an open door. All should be treated fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.

          2. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 12:16pm

            Surely the best thing is to have a health blood stock supply from all those who can give, equally and allow those who run the risks to be denied.

          3. That’s really bad science. There were SLIGHTLY more infections in a group that makes up 95% of the population. Gay people are still FAR more likely to get it. Have a chat with a sexual health doctor – the fact is that if you are straight and don’t fall into any of the other banned categories then you have very little chance of getting HIV.

            It’s true that straight couples might not be monogamous but the chances of them getting HIV from cheating are still much lower.

          4. RE scaremongering and the actions of a few: it’s estimated that one in seven men on the London gay scene have HIV and up to half of them don’t know it.

            I’m willing to disagree on the science (when provided with supporting facts) but the truth is that this policy is based on numbers alone… Various groups’ level of promiscuity is not even factored in, it’s based solely on number of HIV infections

          5. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 2:34pm

            But Tom your being hypocritical.

            1. it doesn’t matter the percentage of population HIV doesn’t discriminate.

            2. the fact you claim people have ‘little chance’ seems to make it ok for them to give blood if they take risks?

            Fact by proper screening some people can be diagnosed with HIV and treated but for most it means risk levels are assessed and those that should be giving blood can but it should be All that take risks can’t not simple “Oh your gay so you can’t”.

            The days of stereotyping is over, the majority of people in relationships don’t take risks, whether they be Gay, Lesbian, Straight etc… giving blood should reflect that.

          6. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 3:16pm

            “RE scaremongering and the actions of a few: it’s estimated that one in seven men on the London gay scene have HIV and up to half of them don’t know it.”

            That is just complete scaremongering. I have problems with the statistic of this. So 1 in 7 people have HIV…. Your figures but up to half of them don’t know? So in other words one in 3.5 maybe?…. Pure media speculation, not fact and certainly not credible. It’s a number whipped up for hysteria and the problem with this is it’s done to create fear around the LGBT community.

            Fact: don’t assume get facts. Assumptions is what the religious extremist use. They do us absolutely not favours.

          7. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 3:59pm

            Straw Man, Jock.
            The point is, gay men are more identifiable, so 5% of 50,000 is easier to define than 1% of 10 million.

          8. Hypocritical? In what way?

            It’s simple science that if almost half new cases of HIV are gay (only 5% of population) then gay people, in general, are more likely to get infected. You do agree right, that gay men are more at risk – as far as I know that’s a fairly undisputed fact. So it’s obvious that taking a higher risk group out of the mix will reduce the chance of infection. There might be better ways of doing it but it’s silly to argue that there is no reason for the ban other than prejudice!

            Statistically just being a sexually active gay man is a risk! Maybe not so high but still higher than a sexually active straight man with the same level of promiscuity/risk taking. I thought we all knew that… It’s why HIV prevention is often aimed at gay men!

            All else being equal gay men ARE more at risk than straight men. Maybe there’s a better way of assessing risk but that fact will always be true.

            RE: Scaremongering and the 1 in 7 figure. It’s from the Terence Higgins Trust.

          9. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 5:35pm

            First of you assume 5% though you’ve clearly plucked that figure of from… the Daily Mail I presume.

            Secondly it IS purely based on prejudice. By your reasoning surely if any group is a risk they should be banned, right?

            Well straight men get HIV and STDs… should they be banned or is a small amount acceptable?

            Women get HIV and STD’s… Should they be banned or is that just acceptable?

            Men of different cultures get HIV and STD’s, straight, should they be banned or is that just acceptable?

            Women of different cultures get HIV and STD’s, straight… should they be banned or is that just acceptable?

            Some Gay men get HIV and STD’s… should they be banned or is that just NOT acceptable?

            It’s wrong, it’s discriminating. Screening has advanced over the 30 odd years and it HAS already been proved that by removing the ban HIV infection rates have reduced dramatically. Think about it what Your saying is you don’t wish for things to improve, for infections to reduce.

          10. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 5:38pm

            Your logic, your arguments are shocking out of date and just about producing fear and prejudice towards the LGBT community.

            Well it ain’t right. Hate yourself by refusing to educated yourself but don’t expect too many others to drop everything and follow you.

        2. So can you explain why the maths differs between England/Scotland/Wales and Northern Ireland. The only difference in the maths seems to be Mr Poots.

          1. Dave

            I think the point that some who support Mr Poots would try to make (albeit not all), is that it doesnt matter about the maths or evidence. They believe that gay men are a higher risk and the numbers, facts and evidence doesn’t matter – they are going to stick to what they believe because it makes sense to them.

            Personally, I prefer facts, evidence and reduced risk.

            Reduced risk is not achieved by following Mr Poots example – unfortunately some people will dogmatically and phlegmatically follow what they conceive to be correct – even if the evidence proves them wrong.

  13. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 10:48am

    The man is a disgrace. You know it’s just because people are Gay therefore they cannot give yet I know many heterosexual people who boast of many partners yet are able to give blood.

    Fact when blood is in need All who can give should be able to equally.

    Just as All those who shouldn’t, shouldn’t equally.

    In the countries that have removed the ban HIV infections transmitted through blood has reduced significantly. This pillock clearly prefer to highlight by his discimination and bigotry.

  14. Given the promiscuity of anyone these days, aren’t we all in high risk groups?

    Similarly, how can they check that someone has not had sex within i.e. within the last twelve months?

    The whole donation system is a sham at best and those that want to give blood should be able to do so.

    Mr Poots is a homophobic cretin and should have no place in modern politics.

  15. I never understood why gays couldn’t donate and still can’t. I don’t have HIV…I’m married to a man in a monogamous relationship!!!

    Besides, what about straight people? Can’t they engage in risky sexual behaviour too? Why is it only gays? Because the risk is higher? OMG, like the guy said, the results get SCREENED anyway!!!

    1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 12:19pm

      Indeed to the bigot apparently all straight people are good and have only 1 partner, nobody else.

      It’s a very dangerous assumption and one they frequently use. I do of course site the mad Anglian mainstream female bigot from yesterday news as further proof.

    2. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 4:18pm

      Excluding gay men is part of that screening process.
      Test for HIV in the blood is not infallible, and by the time a definitive test has been made, the blood is too old to use.
      It is possible to test quickly, but this is expensive considering the vast amounts of blood that are processed daily. Sorry, but the best way to limit the risk is to eliminate the high risk groups, and unfortunately, you happen to be in that category. Sorry, sh|t happens.

      1. Risk of transmission has improved in Italy, Spain and Latvia by better assessment of risk that does not consider orientation as a risk – but behaviour as a risk.

        Safety has improved.

        Its a fact.

        1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 5:46pm

          It suit Spanner to keep with the 1987 directive hate and fear rather than the improvements made by modern science in the last decade etc.

          1. Sadly it seems that Spanner does not keep up with scientific advances.

            It also seems that risk is not his priority otherwise he would be keen to adopt a process which has been shown to be considerably safer.

  16. Poots is a member of the DUP – an extremist, evangelical christian party.

    I hope some enterprising journalist is having a good old snoop around Poots’ past.

    If he’s anyway like Iris Robinson (former MP and wite of the DUP leader) then there’s dirt on him.

    Dear Iris – while she was condemning homosexuality she was also f***ing her teenage butcher. The DUP SHOULD have called for her to be stoned to death, seeing as they interpret the bible literally.

    1. I think an enterprising and persistant journalist should be able to find plenty on Poots that raises concern about his intergrity

  17. Again someone in control who is not qualified, not experienced or smart enough to carry out the duties and responsibilities of his post, no surprise there then from backwards Norn Iron

  18. SinnySinSins 18 Jun 2012, 1:01pm

    People in Africa, what the hell? So he’s a racist and a homophobe now. Pleasant all around, then.
    Keep digging Pootsy, you’ve almost hit bed rock.

    1. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 3:50pm

      Stop being a prat. Gay men and Sub-Saharan Africans are still the two largest vectors of the disease. People like you and your barmy political correctness are going to end up getting people killed.

      1. Paddyswurds 19 Jun 2012, 12:16am

        However almost half of the blood needed in the north of Ireland comes from Britain and the USA where no such restrictions exist. The man is just a homophobic racist bigot.

      2. SinnySinSins 19 Jun 2012, 12:20am

        But banning people from giving blood will stop people getting killed?

        1. Spanner1960 19 Jun 2012, 8:53am

          By preventing high risk groups such as gay men donating.
          We may have lots of advances in medication, but don’t forget HIV still kills people.

      3. How is it political correctness to want to less risky system?

        Surely, the least risky system results in fewest issues of transmission of BBV?

        So if we want least risk – we follow the evidence – which is the Italian/Spanish system.

  19. “… so someone who has sex with somebody in Africa…”
    Nothing quite like stigmatising an entire continent!!!!
    Nice to know that gay blood from England, Scotland and Wales is acceptable – but gay blood from Northern Ireland is not!!!!
    Poots [like all his party colleagues] is utterly unfit for public office!!!!

    1. Butterburr 18 Jun 2012, 2:57pm

      Exactly what I was thinking. If their ‘importing’ blood from other regions where gay blood is donated, then whats the difference?

      1. That’s actually a really good point, Butterburr. Sue Ramsey says in the article that they bring in blood from Scotland, Engalnd and Wales, some of which could easily have been donated by gay men. It’s makes a mockery of the policy in NI.

  20. Robert in S. Kensington 18 Jun 2012, 2:42pm

    Would a heterosexual prostitute be automatically banned I wonder?

    1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 3:08pm

      To be fair prostitutes whether Gay or straight are banned but whether they ass that fairly is another matter.

      1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 3:09pm

        oops mean assess not ass… guess I know where my minds at lol

    2. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 3:48pm

      Yes. Don’t be so fcking stupid.

      1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 5:57pm

        Your not bitter or anything are you?!!!!!

    3. Any sex worker would be barred, Robert

      That would also be the case in Italy, Spain and Latvia

  21. Spanner1960 18 Jun 2012, 3:48pm

    I’m sure the man is a bigot, but I have to applaud the decision. I just hope it was made for the right reasons of saving potentially infected people rather than for any prejudice towards gay men.

    1. Jock S. Trap 18 Jun 2012, 5:44pm

      So perhaps people should refuse treatment then just in case eh?

      How different is you negative bigoted attitude from those who refuse to be treated by a doctor based on the colour of there skin?

      There is No difference… You just the same, nasty, bigoted and completely uneducated.

      You should be ashamed.

      1. Well said, Jock! I’m astonished at Spanner’s stance on this. Leaving aside the equality/discrimination issue for a moment, it doesn’t make sense to ban all gay men because it means denying much needed blood – as simple as that.

        1. Even worse than that, BennieM

          The evidence is that adopting an approach where orientation is a principle focus in determining risk is a less safe approach than considering behaviour.

        2. Spanner1960 19 Jun 2012, 9:00am

          I don’t know why I am being seen as the bad guy here, I simply see it as a matter of risk. There are a few important points to note here:

          1. There is NOT a desperate need for blood. That woman is totally misinformed. Blood can be shipped within hours from any part of the UK.

          2. HIV is still a killer. If it is not diagnosed until the late stages, even medication can often not help.

          3. Detecting HIV in blood samples is not infallible. There is a big difference between doing high regimen tests on single samples, and checking the thousands of gallons of the stuff that gets donated. Excluding high risk groups such as sex workers, IV drug users, haemophiliacs etc helps reduce this risk. Gay men have been seen as part of this risk, but there are attempts to give a 12 month hold-over period so that gay men can donate.

          1. Spanner1960 19 Jun 2012, 9:04am

            If there is ANY risk, it should be taken into consideration. The point is, if I am wrong, and you are right, then some gay men will forfeit their rights, which is unfortunate, but understandable; however, if I am right and you are wrong, then innocent people could be infected and possibly die simply so gay men be allowed to donate.

            Personally, I find that attitude selfish in the extreme.
            Yes, it is discriminatory, but it is discriminating for the right reasons – This has NOTHING to do homophobia, and everything to do with protecting the general public, LGBT people included.

          2. You are being seen as the bad man (in my case) because you claim to support minimising risk of BBV in blood supplies and then support a method that does not deliver the highest levels of safety and is discriminatory without scientific logic.

            If the discrimination resulted in higher levels of safety then, I would not be happy – but on patient safety grounds I would support it.

            However, the experience elsewhere and studies of CDC, WHO and others demonstate judgements based solely on orientation do not improve safety. The Italian and Spanish approach has demonstrably improved safety and reduced risk.

            Therefore, since orientation discrimination does not improve safety – the only reason to pursue it is either ignorance or anti-gay motivations.

            Thats why I see your approach as bad – it harms patients.

      2. Spanner1960 19 Jun 2012, 9:12am

        There you go with your daft PC liberalism again.
        You refuse to mention the elephant in the room. SOME gay men are a high risk. The problem, it is virtually impossible to define which is, or is not, so a blanket ban on all gay men has been applied.

        I would be the first one to complain if I thought there was an alternative, but there isn’t. I used to donate blood myself before I came out; I would welcome the idea that everyone could donate if the risk was minimal, but the reality is, it is not. There is still a distinct risk of cross-infection, and selfish people such as yourself with your ‘me, me me’ attitudes that try to force people onto some political guilt trip just make the matter harder.

        Oh, and as for uneducated, I have MSc’s in Physics and Applied Biology. What have you got?

        1. There is an alternative – the system adopted in Italy, Spain and other countries – which has been shown to be safer.

          If its PC to want the most safe system for blood possible – then I for one am proud to be PC.

          If you really believe in minimising risk to those receiving blood products, then your continued support for a system which has more risk is bizarre and demonstrates a lack of utilisation of your intelligence.

          Having the ability to analyse information and data on a subject – is different from actually doing it!

  22. Canada’s permanent deferral on blood donations from men who have had sex with another man—even once—has never been scientifically sound; on top of that, the ban has been increasingly difficult to defend as more and more countries shed the practice. CBS has gone through several revisitations of the issue, but they always ended up being more theatrics than science, opting for the status quo. Somehow, though it seems this time will be different. Heck, even Russia, which is pretty darn anti-gay, has ended their lifetime ban on gay donors.

    The identically cautious adoption of a one-year deferral is based on the rationale that particularly dangerous contaminants, such as HIV and hepatitis B, are undetectable for a period of time. Since all blood donations are tested for blood-borne contaminants, a period of a few months is really all that’s necessary, but donor clinics want to be especially vigilant, so a 12 month buffer is said to make sense.

    However, in a sense this avoids the real

    1. issue.

      Essentially, the problem isn’t the length of the ban (although forever was clearly a bit excessive), but rather the question that triggers it. This question essentially singles out sexual orientation instead of sexual behavior, treating many safe donors as risky, and many risky donors as safe. Monogamous gay couples, for example, are still effectively banned by the questionnaire, while a straight man that has unprotected sex with hundreds of partners is treated like an ideal donor, despite being a far greater risk.

      This problem shouldn’t be difficult to resolve. The question could be replaced with something along the lines of: “Have you had more than one sexual partner in the last year?” followed by “Has your sexual partner had more than one sexual partner in the last year?” Answering yes to either could trigger the deferral without singling out sexual orientation and would likely even improve the quality of the blood supply by catching risky straight donors in addition to

    2. gay ones.

      Some argue that the issue is self declaration – its something we already accept from heterosexuals in Canada – by refusing to accept them from gay people – are we really saying gay people are less truthful and honest?

      The fact remains risk based assessment for blood donation has been shown internationally to improve safety. Its important Canada does this.

      Its also important that Northern Ireland and other nations do too.

      The above is based on an article I wrote (and other articles I researched) to contribute to a paper to the Ontario Health Board.

  23. A great article explaining why blood donation should be dealt with on a risk basis – not a prejudgement based on orientation!

    http://www.yalemedlaw.com/2010/10/why-blood-donation-restrictions-should-be-based-upon-sexual-behavior-not-sexual-preference/

    1. Thanks Stu, your posts are -as always- useful and informative. If the blood service has the resources to do risk assessments then that’s obviously the best option.

      I have to say though that I’m disappointed with the number of posters here who know nothing about how/why the policy was implemented, are quick to scream prejudice and don’t seem to understand the science at work.

      If so many gay men really think they are no more at risk than straight men then I wonder about all the money and resources put into educating the gay community about it!

      Maybe I’m misunderstanding people’s stance and they do know about the increased risk… But everyone be careful out there just in case! [cue 10 million ‘thumbs down’ clicks]

      1. Thanks Tom

        The risk is from behaviour, not orientation – and thus combatting the risk must consider behaviour – not orientation in isolation.

        The current system allows individuals who engage in risky behaviour to donate – provided they are heterosexual.

        Thats neither fair on grounds or risk, nor on grounds of discrimination.

        1. To be honest I think we agree that if a safer option is avaliable that allows safe gay men to donate it’s best for everyone – as long as it’s based on evidence. It seems that they’ve managed this in other countries so maybe we should follow their example.

          One, kind of irrelivant, point tho. In a way it IS based on behaviour (having sex with a man who’s had sex with a man) – I guess the argument is that this behaviour is kind of broad and covers all sexually active gay men.

          Once again – thanks for your comments. I’m a fully fledged gay rights activist and my previous stance was based on evidence (being unaware of the other countries that manage to carry out risk assessments) – I may have been wrong but it’s not nice to be called a bigot by a guy named after a jock strap!

          I don’t think I’ll be coming back here – Apart from you it’s a bit like a schoolyard with people on both sides insulting each other with little or no actual facts or arguments exchanging place!

          All the best!

          1. Tom

            Nice to chat and debate. I would encourage you to come back and try again sometime.

            Its always worth debating the facts. Open minded people can often be persuaded that there are alternative views. I know I have learned that on here on occasion.

            I get the impression you are a gay activist. I hope to see you again on here.

            By the way, I didnt think you were a bigot – just perhaps unaware of some thoughts elsewhere on this issue.

            I think the UK should try the Italian/Spanish model – the evidence is that it is safer. If for some bizarre reason that is not the case in the UK – and I can not see why the UK would be different – then we re-evaluate.

            Take Care

            Stu

          2. Spanner1960 19 Jun 2012, 9:20pm

            Can you two get a room?

  24. 2 studies to support a view that affects hundreds of people and could severely impact the lives and health of even more? When I was writing a paper on selected biochemical pathways that contribute to carcinogenesis I cited about 20 sources for each pathway. I’m 18, the paper is merely for a minor qualification and has no impact on other people’s lives but I still went to the effort to cite a variety of peer-reviewed academic articles and books. This guy is affecting a variety of people’s lives due to 2 papers that “support his view”? Even I know better than that and I’m probably half his age.

  25. Midnighter 18 Jun 2012, 6:54pm

    Jug-eared moron.

  26. And you wonder why People make Irish Jokes. It’s because of ID10ts like this.

  27. An intersting academic study which agrees that bans on gay and bisexual men donating blood is unscientific and unethical:

    http://wblearning-ejournal.com/currentIssue/E3005%20non%20ref%20rtb.pdf

    “Giving blood is an altruistic act that is mainly performed to serve good reasons. There exists a great need for blood donations that aim to treat individuals with chronic diseases such as Hemophilia. During the September 11 events, half a million blood pints were donated, that saved numerous lives. However, this same event increased the awareness of the gay community toward this lifetime deferral policy. Clearly, this created a great deal of disappointment among the gay community. This ban could have been justified during the early 1980s in the light of all the fatalities generated from the HIV infected blood transfusions. The advanced screening technology that secures a very minimal to negligible risk of contaminated blood transfusions validates amending this policy into a defined deferral

    1. policies. Finally, changing the lifetime ban, supported by the utilitarian theory, does allow healthy individuals to donate, contribute into a substantial increase in blood donations, while keeping the risk at a minimum.”

  28. Northern Irelands blood supply is relatively safe compared to some other countries. Blood is laboratory-tested for diseases like HIV.

    Currently, the N Ireland Blood Service refuses blood donations from all men who have sex with other men, including those men who have safe sex with a single monogamous partner.

    In contrast, it allows heterosexually-active men and women to donate even if they have unsafe sex with multiple, casual partners.

    This policy was developed at a time when HIV was seen as an infection associated with male homosexuality.

    We now know that HIV is transmitted by unsafe sex not gay sex, and that everyone who has unsafe sex is vulnerable.

    This is reflected in the fact that gay and bisexual men who have safe sex are far less likely to contract HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases than heterosexual men and women who have unsafe sex.

    Blood donation policy should reflect the fact that HIV-risk is not confined to any one social group.

    Italy, Spain and other

    1. countries have a policy which screens all donors for the safety of their sexual activity. The rest of the UK have a deferral period based on behaviour not simplistic orientation. Other countries also have deferral periods.

      If N Ireland introduced a similar approach, this would allow gay men to donate blood if they have safe sex while turning away those who have had unsafe sex.

      The same standards would apply to those heterosexually-active indiviudals who sought to donate blood. There would be equal treatment of equal risk.

      It’s time for blood donation policy to screen potential donors for behaviour which are most closely related to HIV transmission, rather than behaviours which no are no longer considered risky.

      “The ban automatically presumes that gay men are engaging in high risk sex behaviours, when that is not always the case. All gay men do not engage in high risk behaviours, and secondly, increases of HIV are higher among heterosexuals than gay men.”
      Canadian Health.

      The

    2. current policy bars all sexually-active gay men from blood donation on the incorrect basis that all sex between men is necessarily a high risk activity.

      This unfairly discriminates against gay and bisexual men in two ways.

      It stigmatizes gay men as diseased, sexually irresponsible, a threat to public health and social outsiders. This stigma underpins other forms of discrimination against a social minority which is already vulnerable to prejudice and misunderstanding.

      It also excludes them from an important public duty which is associated with altruism, humanitarianism and good citizenship.

      “The transfusion services are inconsistent, open to the charge of unfair bias against homosexuals and unreasonable in their categorisation of homosexual men as homogeneous, promiscuous and unreliable.”
      Dr William Murphy
      National Medical Director, Irish Blood Transfusion Service

      HIV is transmitted by unsafe sex.

      This means that anyone who donates blood after having unsafe sex which puts

    3. them at risk from HIV, is compromising the safety of the blood supply.

      The risk inherent in this policy was demonstrated in 1999 when an Australian schoolgirl was infected with HIV from blood donated by a woman who, it appears, acquired the disease through unsafe heterosexual sex.

      Since then the rates of unsafe sex and HIV infection have increased dramatically amongst some groups of heterosexually-active people in a number of nations including Australia, Northern Ireland, Canada and New Zealand; including young men and women.

      The blood supply would be safer if heterosexual donors whose unsafe sex outs them at risk from HIV infection were turned away.

      “Current guidelines fail to adequately take donor behavior into account. Questionnaires don’t routinely ask about risky behavior, so even promiscuous heterosexuals can donate. Is blood from a monogamous, HIV-negative gay man more unsafe than blood from a heterosexual man who is sexually active with multiple partners.”
      Los Angeles Times

    4. According to WHO figures, every blood donation saves three lives.

      The NI blood service regularly reminds us that blood stocks are critically low.

      This blood supply crisis could be partially alleviated if gay men who have safe sex and are not at risk from HIV infection were allowed to donate blood.

      “Letting gay men give blood could help bolster the supply. But, incredibly, despite ongoing shortages of blood that can and do cost lives, and no artificial substitute on the horizon, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is letting prejudice and fear – not science – determine whether gays can give blood. At one time, long ago, the gay-blood ban may have made sense. But it no longer does….The FDA just does not get it. Fear and prejudice are terrible reasons to let you or someone you love die.”
      Dr Arthur Caplan
      Director, Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania
      and former Chair, US Government Advisory Panel on Blood Donation

      By not screening all potential donors for the safety of

    5. their sexual activity, the current blood donation policy undermines the message that safe-sex is necessary and sufficient to protect health, and may even be a disincentive to the practise of safe sex.

      It does this by effectively saying that safe sex is impossible for gay men and unnecessary for heterosexual people.

      However, after a generation of safe-sex education and practice, we know that this is not true.

      We know that gay men can be safe, and that heterosexuals should.

      A new policy which screens donors for the safety of their sexual activity, will reinforce the safe-sex ethic by associating it not only with individual health, but with the ability to help others in need and discharge an altruistic and humanitarian duty.

      “Rational blood donation guidelines need to be founded upon the best evidence-based science and the behavior of individuals, not upon archaic data and preconceptions about groups of people. The … current guidelines imply that gay men are the primary agents for

    6. the spread of HIV, while giving heterosexuals a false sense of security about their sexual behavior and responsibility. These are two very dangerous messages for the FDA to be reinforcing.”
      Joel Ginsberg
      Executive Director, US Gay and Lesbian Medical Association

      The N Ireland Health Secretary is reinforcing similar bogus principles that are in themselves inherently dangerous to present to the N Irish public, by adopting the stance that he has.

      In recent years, in an increasing number of countries, blood donors have begun to be screened for the safety of their sexual activity rather than the gender of their sexual partner.

      But two countries in particular are worth considering because a reformed blood donation has been in place long enough for an obvious trend to emerge.

      At the beginning of the decade Spain and Italy adopted a donor screening policy which allows gay men to donate of they have safe sex and bars heterosexuals who do not.

      Since that time the number of HIV

    7. transmissions through blood transfusion has dropped dramatically from a level that was much higher than most comparable nations.

      Levels of HIV transmission through transfusion are now comparable or better than most other nations despite the fact that Spain and Italy have much larger populations than some of those compared against and much higher rates of HIV in the general population.

      Far from jeopardizing the safety of the blood supply, a reformed blood makes the blood supply even safer.

      There is no reason N Ireland would not also benefit from an improvement in safety by concentrating on behaviour not orientation.

      Donated blood is tested for HIV and other blood-borne diseases.

      There is a window period during which time the presence of HIV in donated blood cannot be detected, but due to rapid advances in technology this has been reduced to less than a fortnight and has no impact on the production of most blood products.

      Blood products that must be used within a fortnight of

    8. (eg platelets for people with haemophilia) are only taken from donors with a well-established relationship with the blood services in Italy and Spain and remove the issue of testing – pathogens can be identified in this period due to improvements in technology.

      The existence of a window period may make it necessary for potential blood donors to disclose their relevant medical and sexual history.

      However, male-to-male sex is not, in-and-of itself, relevant to HIV risk and should not be used as a basis for barring potential donors.

      The only relevant activity which givers rise to HIV risk is unsafe sex. This is why we want all donors to be screened for the safety of their sexual activity.

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