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UKIP doctor blasts Tory MP Michael Fabricant’s equal blood campaign

Gabby Jeffries November 18, 2014
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A UKIP parliamentary candidate, who works as a hospital doctor, has criticised Tory MP Michael Fabricant’s campaign to equalise blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men.

Mr Fabricant, a former vice chair of the Conservative Party, is campaigning in Parliament to end the 12-month deferral.

At present, men who have sex with men (MSM) can only give blood in England, Wales and Scotland if they have not had sex for 12 months or more – and remain banned from donating for life in Northern Ireland.

Last month, the Lichfield MP introduced a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons, urging for the law to be changed.

In November, Tory Energy Minister Amber Rudd and Shadow Scotland Secretary Margaret Curran both signalled support for the senior Tory’s campaign.

But a UKIP parliamentary candidate, who works as a hospital doctor, questioned the move and linked his argument to the number of gay and bisexual men having to take PEP (Post exposure prophylaxis) after a case of unprotected sex.

In a letter to the Cumbria Crack, Jonathan Stanley, the UKIP PCC for Westmorland & Lonsdale wrote: “While I agree there must be more done to increase the supply of blood donated it is obvious to anyone that the point of donation is to improve the health and save the lives of patients at the least possible risk.

“There are very good reasons why sexually active men who have sex with men are currently excluded from donation given that they are a high risk group for HIV transmission, which is why many come to A&E after a mishap to prevent becoming infected.”

Mr Stanley continued:-

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) has clear guidelines over who to treat in with post exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection. The decision to treat many patients rests on whether the sexual contact was with a member of a high risk group.

Mr. Fabricant’s logic would extend to recipients of such contact with gay men being denied PEPSI if the act was deemed low risk.

The science on HIV transmission is clear but it’s a shame Mr. Fabricant has failed to read it. He is right that established HIV infections can be detected rapidly by saliva or blood tests but this is a test for antibodies that can take many months to develop; they are not tests for very early HIV infection.

The nature of high risk groups is that they can be infected and donate blood on the basis of a false negative “HIV” test result. No one has a right to give blood, it is done by mutual agreement between the donor and the healthcare worker involved in donation; likewise the decision to transfuse a patient is one taken between the healthcare worker and patient.

Extending the concept of equality to blood donation is inappropriate and could lead to an increased risk of transmission of HIV from high risk donors, especially when blood products are manufactured from pooled donations.

Put the patient before politics.

In a parliamentary motion last month, Michael Fabricant told the Commons: “How can it be logical that a straight promiscuous man who might have a two different partners each night of the year can donate blood while a gay man in a monogamous loving relationship cannot – unless he has certified that he has been totally celibate for the past year?”

In June, the Department of Health (DH) rejected calls by the Green Party to end the restrictions.

A DH spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk: “The 12-month deferral reflects the heightened risk men who have sex with men have from blood-borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis B.

“It allows for the period of time these viruses can go undetected by screening tests and lessens the risk of infection in people who need blood donations.”

The Department of Health also suggested that a fresh review would be premature as SaBTO had issued its recommendations less than three years ago.

The one-year deferral was chosen by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) in part because of Hepatitis B, which disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men.

While there is a four-week window between transmission and detection of HIV, Hepatitis B can take up to a year to be cleared by the body.

 

Related topics: Bisexual men, blood, blood ban, donating blood, equal blood, gay and bisexual men, gay blood ban, gay men, HIV, hiv infection, hiv testing, hiv transmission, HIV-prevention, men who have sex with men, Michael Fabricant, MSM, Public Health England, tory mp

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