Donating Blood

  • iHavok

    Posts: 1477

    Mar 26, 2008 4:45 AM GMT
    Who else here doesn't understand the American Red Cross' ban on blood donation?

    It makes NO SENSE at all.

    All blood goes through equally rigorous testing...why should some donors be denied for such an archaic fear?
  • Kohaku

    Posts: 87

    Mar 26, 2008 6:05 AM GMT
    I agree. That rule is complete and utter BS.
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    Mar 26, 2008 6:22 AM GMT
    Ok before this gets out of hand it's been discussed before here:

    http://www.realjock.com/topic/75414/

    and there is a reason - based on science and statistics. It's just really long and I don't feel like typing it out again. Yes it may feel discriminatory but it's not meant to be.
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Mar 26, 2008 6:25 AM GMT
    Completely agreed. And gays are not treated equally -- the presumption is that gay men engage in unsafe sex. Of course, if straight men were held to the same standard then I wonder how many men could donate. Period.
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    Mar 26, 2008 7:25 AM GMT
    mylifemypain is correct. The reasons are very sound. It is an uniformed knee jerk reaction to assume that the rules are unfair or based in prejudice. I would suggest you read this discussion, and in particular his contribution to the thread. http://www.realjock.com/topic/75414/ I would pay very close attention to his description of the actual testing procedures and how it is possible for things to slip through the cracks.

    Also read up on this http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/13/health/13cnd-organ.html?_r=1&ref=health&oref=slogin
    It does not state that the donor in question was gay or straight or having unprotected sex, but this incident and ones like would naturally lead the Red Cross to continue barring the most likely vector from donating.

    It also occurs to me that the majority of voices, especially in the last thread on this topic, that are so dead set against this policy are also members of the age group where new HIV infections are on the sharpest rise. The most laughable argument I've ever heard is "But I don't have unprotected sex". Why would the Red Cross take your word for it? Could they really afford to? None of you that have problem with the policy seem to take into account the gap between infection and detection. You can test negative and still be infected . I hate to use a Chuckyism, but what happened to a little critical thinking?

    What truly disturbs me are those that proudly boast that they lie about their sexual history in order to donate blood. You might think you're being a hero, but it is in reality a selfish self indulgent act.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Mar 26, 2008 10:22 AM GMT
    It just so happened that I had my usual confrontation with this yesterday
    You guys have probably seen those big vans outside movie theaters ?
    a nurse outside was hawking people to donate
    I was walking by and she said
    Sir would you like to donate blood?
    and I said what I always do
    "Sure"
    and then I say
    "But you guys say that I can't... so you don't need blood that badly then do you?"
    "Goodbye"
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    Mar 26, 2008 10:38 AM GMT
    A friend of mine was a Phlebotomist with the Red Cross and he thought it was BS as well. It is an old left-over policy from the early days of the AIDS epidemic, is discriminatory and the policy should be changed! icon_evil.gif
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Mar 26, 2008 10:58 AM GMT
    I don't consider blood donation to be a right that can be inferred by our other human rights and issues of equality. Donating blood is not a course for other social benefits, with the exception of a movie ticket or bragging rights (if blood donation is worth bragging about). On this issue, I feel that medical expediency takes priority over any sense of social equality.

    However, I agree that they should expand (not replace) this ban to include unprotected heterosex.
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    Mar 26, 2008 10:59 AM GMT
    i just lie and say i'm straight as a pretzel
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    Mar 26, 2008 11:25 AM GMT
    RBY71 saidmylifemypain is correct. The reasons are very sound......The most laughable argument I've ever heard is "But I don't have unprotected sex". Why would the Red Cross take your word for it? Could they really afford to? None of you that have problem with the policy seem to take into account the gap between infection and detection. You can test negative and still be infected . I hate to use a Chuckyism, but what happened to a little critical thinking?


    I don't agree that the reasons are necessarily sound. For example, if there can be up to a 1 year latency, why don't they ask if you have had sex with a male anytime within the past two years instead of "...with any male who has had sex with another male since 1977"?

    You might argue that the potential donor may be inclined to lie. But if that's the case, I would expect that he would probably be just as likely to lie in response to the present question (i.e. any time since 1977) as he would about the last two years.

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    Mar 26, 2008 12:26 PM GMT
    For those who are offended by this restriction, why is it so important to you to donate blood? Personally, I miss donating blood myself, but I wouldn't want to take on the responsibility of guessing my HIV status for my entire community.
  • iHavok

    Posts: 1477

    Mar 26, 2008 12:39 PM GMT
    So let me get this straight...

    The article mylifeispain and rby1971 site itself says this sort of thing is incredibly rare, and as far as I'm found when reading it never once mentioned the donor as being gay. Did I miss it?

    How many blood transfusions are performed each year?

    Wait that's right.
    The article isn't about blood donation, it's about organ donors.

    So basically i gather this out of date policy is an attempt to save money...

    And you guys still advocate it? Sad.

    http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=660
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    Mar 26, 2008 1:39 PM GMT
    briarhawk saidHow many blood transfusions are performed each year?

    Wait that's right.
    The article isn't about blood donation, it's about organ donors.

    So basically i gather this out of date policy is an attempt to save money...

    And you guys still advocate it? Sad.

    http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=660


    The Bay Area Reporter story you included a link to does say that the Red Cross and other groups that take blood donations made a statement to the FDA that the ban can be retired. And if a bunch of scientists get together and decide that gay men should be allowed to donate, then that will be great.

    Twenty-five percent of the HIV-positive people out there don't realize they are positive. Regrettably, a lot of those will be gay men. In 2005, 71% of HIV infections occurred in men who have sex with men. And some people who have tested negative may actually be positive because of the window between being infected and having a detectable level of the virus. I agree that many potential donors may be excluded by the ban, but the concentration of HIV infection among men who have sex with men is really high. I don't take the ban personally; I actually am in a group with a higher probability of HIV infection.
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    Mar 26, 2008 2:10 PM GMT
    maybe the american red cross is being run by old homophobic conservative christian yuppies; which means that they're far from finding a logical reason for their discriminatory acts.
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    Mar 26, 2008 2:12 PM GMT
    It's not only America only a handfuil of countries have receeded such bans. Im excluded on two fronts, being born in the UK in 1987 and being gay.

    It's kind of unsettling that your considered disease ridden with AIDS and CjD without any even slight indication of you having either.

    Innocent until proven guilty you know.
  • zakariahzol

    Posts: 2241

    Mar 26, 2008 2:24 PM GMT
    I will never donate blood until I am 100% sure I am HIV -. Since I am to chicken shit to take the test, I guess I just not ready to donate blood.
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    Mar 26, 2008 2:48 PM GMT
    It's total bullshit, and I agree, it's an out of date policy. Which is why I still donate blood even though I have engaged in sex with another man as they put it. Sure, I lie about it, and I'm sure many other guys do as well. I get tested as much as I can, so I know I don't have anything. And like Briarhawk said, "
    All blood goes through equally rigorous testing...why should some donors be denied for such an archaic fear?"
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    Mar 27, 2008 2:45 AM GMT
    Okay let's all take a step back here.

    1) It's not about homophobia - it's about HIV. Period. Tell me that HIV (at least in the western states) is more prevelant in heterosexuals than in homosexuals and then maybe you'll have an argument about the ban being unfair. Given that it (and other STDs unfortunately) happen to be higher in the MSM population is an unfortunate side effect of some people being irresponsible. Yes it sucks, but it's a fact.

    2) Yes it is a small chance. But that's a small chance *per* person. It's actually not so small when you think about the larger picture. Say it's about 99.5% likely that they will catch one person's hiv+ status. While that might seem like that should cover everyone, say 200 people donate. That's 1 person with HIV who doesn't register on the test who will slip through the cracks and give their HIV infected blood to another person. You know what the risk of transmission of HIV through bareback anal sex? I believe it's somewhere around 1 in 200. So, if only 200 people ignore the ban, one person will be infected. In addition, the person who receives the infected blood a) probably didn't really have a choice and b) probably didn't even consent because they weren't conscious. Now is it really worth saving your pride to put someone else at risk of getting HIV? I hope no one's that selfish.
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    Mar 27, 2008 2:59 AM GMT
    I have an idea. Maybe we as a community should take responsibility for ourselves and achieve an HIV rate comparable to heteros. When and if that time comes, then maybe we can bitch about discriminatory policy. And even if that doesn't get them to let us donate blood, at least we'll be safer.

    But if instead we as a community are going to behave like children and go around practicing unprotected sex and then bitching about not being able to donate blood without taking responsibility for our HIV rates first, then I hope they keep ignoring us in this matter.
  • Bunjamon

    Posts: 3161

    Mar 27, 2008 3:05 AM GMT
    HémaQuébec bans MSMs (men who have sex with men, not just people who identify as gay) from giving blood, and I believe Canada instituted a ban on organ donation as well.

    Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy doesn't it?
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    Mar 27, 2008 3:13 AM GMT
    The ban on men who have had sex with men since 1977 is intended to prevent the spread of HIV, but there is a historical and social context that cannot be ignored.

    The ban was created in 1985, at a time when it was absolutely uncertain as to how HIV was spread. All that was known at the time was that homosexuals and intravenous drug users appeared to be the hardest hit populations. Consequently, health policy and public opinion were shaped by that first impression.

    The American Red Cross has since asked that the life-long ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men be lifted; they have asked for a policy allowing men who have sex with men to donate blood if they have not had sex in a year. However, as of 2007, the Food and Drug Administration has refused to change the policy.

    Also, for the sake of a little more clarity with statistics...
    The adult prevalence of HIV is 0.6% in the United States (UNAIDS 2007 AIDS Epidemic Update).
    The sensitivity of your standard HIV antigen blood test is 99.9%, and the sensitivity of your standard HIV antibody test is 99.8%.

    So if we screen a population of say 100,000. That's 600 individuals with HIV. Of the 600, only one person would not be detected by either the antigen or the antibody test. That's 1 in 100,000 or about 0.001%.


    So...in light of our blood shortage, I personally donate despite the ban; I know my risks, and I'd sooner donate for the greater good than take the moral high ground on this issue.
  • iHavok

    Posts: 1477

    Mar 27, 2008 3:14 AM GMT
    I believe the percentages the AABB quotes on their website is 1 in one million chance of catching HIV from a transfusion.

    Okay, so the policy is to protect people. Why aren't the more accurate tests used? There are now tests which can catch the virus after 12 days. 12 days. It's a travesty that anyone has to catch something so deadly when it's that preventable.

    Furthermore, if we look at it, isn't HIV/AIDS the second largest killer of women behind cancer/heart disease?

    Per the CDC website:

    In 2004 (the most recent year for which data are available), HIV infection was

    * the leading cause of death for black women (including African American women) aged 25–34 years.
    * the 3rd leading cause of death for black women aged 35–44 years.
    * the 4th leading cause of death for black women aged 45–54 years.
    * the 4th leading cause of death for Hispanic women aged 35–44 years.

    In the same year, HIV infection was the 5th leading cause of death among all women aged 35–44 years and the 6th leading cause of death among all women aged 25–34 years. The only diseases causing more deaths of women were cancer and heart disease

    Why is there no strictures on women donating? With 17.7 million infected women, they make up almost half of those who are infected...


    I'm not saying caution isn't necessary, i'm saying we should start using the tools at hand to remove hindrances from those of us who honestly want to help.
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    Mar 27, 2008 4:40 AM GMT
    I don't really think that much about the issue of the blood ban because my mind is too busy too much.

    My last job involved working on algorithms for real time quantitative analysis of HIV/HCV specifically for the blood supply. The technology involved was pretty cool and I enjoyed working with some pretty sharp scientists since I had not been able to use some of my science/math skills so much since college. Tests are indeed getting very sophisticated as already mentioned, and will only get better.

    Knowing how good these test are getting I can certainly see how these policies need to be looked at again. There are other factors too like the cost of testing. Biopharm companies have come up with some pretty creative ways of mass testing blood supplies. The improving machinery and techniques involved improve the speed of testing as well as the improving the accuracy and lowering the cost like I said. A lot of work and stringent criteria are required to get the various methods approved by the scientific and health communities. It is all pretty amazing.
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    Mar 27, 2008 1:46 PM GMT
    The practice is discriminatory and is in place in Canada as well. One reason is the cost of testing, by screening out gays they can reduce the costs of the service.

    I personally feel they should include us since there is a shortage of blood products. That being said we are not making our case any stronger by having the number of HIV infections in the gay community increasing.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Mar 27, 2008 2:32 PM GMT
    My issue with the blood ban on men who have sex with men is that it's not in line with the degree of restriction they place on other categories of high risk individuals. You can have unprotected sex with an HIV+ female prostitute, and donate blood again a year later. If you have ever had sex with another man since 1977, you're refused. This imbalance is the cause of my problem with the ban. If men who have sex with men were merely treated as the same degree of being a high risk donor as those who have had sex with a prostitute or those who have had sex with someone who lived in one of the hardest hit central African countries - namely, a year after the last sexual encounter before blood donation - I wouldn't object (or, at least, not as strenuously. The Red Cross shouldn't be expected to take my word for it if I say that my hypothetical partner and I are mutually monogamous, so even though our risk would indeed be less than those who have sex with prostitutes, when integrating across men who have sex with men as a whole the probabilities might be very similar). There's nothing inherently wrong with the FDA mandating a high level of safety, even beyond what many of us think is necessary. The argument of innocent until proven guilty is a legal matter, not a public health one, and has no bearing in this arena. But if it's truly an issue of being a high degree of safety, then it would be evenly spread across high risk groups, not disproportionately leveled against one group beyond what their relative risk is. That is the extent to which the ban is unjustly discriminatory.