donating blood

  • Thriller83

    Posts: 71

    Jan 02, 2008 1:41 AM GMT
    Has anyone here ever donated blood or blood plasma and deliberately checked the "no" box in regards to being MSM (men who have sex w/ men)? Seeing as how they rigorously screen every donation they receive it seems absurd that being MSM should be a discriminating factor. In fact, I think the American Red Cross has called for a lift on the federal governments ban on blood donations from me who have had sex with other men. A buddy of told mine about how he donates plasma for money AND has a means of getting a free HIV test. They used to be free through our local ASO but since funds have been cut we usually have to pay $15 for those rapids results tests. I have thought about donating blood for both that purpose and for the sake of helping other people but feel bad about laying about the whole MSM thing even though I'm always safe.
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    Jan 02, 2008 2:05 AM GMT
    I do it pretty consistently. For me, the importance of donating blood outweighs the negative of lying, though I agree that the federal guidelines are increasingly absurd. After all, they don't reject you if you're a black woman, though black women have seen the largest increases in HIV/AIDS rates in the last number of years.
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    Jan 02, 2008 2:06 AM GMT
    I don't know, I donated blood on several ocassions, and I don't think that question about being an MSM is a discriminatory factor, it is more thing of precaution. If a person who donates blood indicates that he had sex with men, they only run tests on HIV to make sure you are HIV-.
    However, if you feel uncomfortable about checking that box, I would recommend that you do HIV test, just to be 100% sure, and if it's negative you should be able to donate blood.
    Hope this helps.
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    Jan 02, 2008 2:10 AM GMT
    Does it make me a bad person if I do that?

    I've donated blood, checked no, even though I have had sexual contact with a man.

    I guess I'm a bad person.

    x
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    Jan 02, 2008 2:20 AM GMT
    damned_hunter saidI don't know, I donated blood on several ocassions, and I don't think that question about being an MSM is a discriminatory factor, it is more thing of precaution. If a person who donates blood indicates that he had sex with men, they only run tests on HIV to make sure you are HIV-.
    However, if you feel uncomfortable about checking that box, I would recommend that you do HIV test, just to be 100% sure, and if it's negative you should be able to donate blood.
    Hope this helps.


    They don't test all donations?
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    Jan 02, 2008 3:33 AM GMT
    They test all donations.

    But if you indicate that you've had sex with another man then they will not accept you as a donor (according to a friend of mine who volunteers as a phlebotomist).

    Fortunately, I haven't had to lie yet
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    Jan 02, 2008 4:05 AM GMT
    The American Red Cross, as well as all other organizations that collect blood, must do so under the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration.

    You may donate blood and self-disqualify during the process or your donation may be disqualified through several screening measures/questions.

    Once your donation has been disqualified by you or anyone in the process, you will be permanently disqualified for life, unless you go through a petition process that wreaks of bureacracy.

    I was up to 3 gallons and wanted to lie about the sex with other men question, but decided to stop because, at that time, the government was acting with good intentions to protect the public from tainted blood/blood products.

    The tests are so accurate now that I believe the restrictions should be revised as the American Red Cross is asking for.

    However, there is no justification for donating blood for the sole purpose of getting a free STD test...just go to a local health dept. and pay the $10 for the comprehensive STD test, perhaps the best bargain in health care.

    I would caution against lying during the screening process; it might come back to haunt you, particularly since you are entered into a national database via your social security number. The need for blood is great but the American Red Cross and others do a good job at meeting those needs.

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    Jan 02, 2008 1:56 PM GMT
    I donated regularly for most of my adult life, but stopped once I came out this year.
    I hope they change the guidelines for donors so I (and others) can give again.
    Being the Universal Donor type o- ,the blood center was always happy to see me.
    Donating blood was something I really felt good about. It's not like I get to potentially save someone's life every day.

    Does anyone know, if there is a blood need for a specific person and they know you are gay, can I donate specifically for that individual? (family, friend, etc)
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    Jan 02, 2008 2:42 PM GMT
    I had that experience last year trying to donate blood and then the dreaded question #37. I checked truthfully yes, and then I was pulled aside, was told that they couldn't take my blood, "but we still love you."

    Whatever. I walked out of there as quickly as I could because I felt patronized and humiliated.
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    Jan 02, 2008 3:16 PM GMT
    Skip the middle man. Bleed on people.
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    Jan 02, 2008 4:08 PM GMT
    I have given blood in the past but not for a long time now. I have wondered about organ donation too. I am an organ donor listed on my driver's license but will they take my organs if they know I have had sex with men? Does anyone know?
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    Jan 02, 2008 9:46 PM GMT
    I used to organize blood drives, and it was stupid that I couldn't donate myself.
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    Jan 24, 2008 7:44 AM GMT
    I understand why the companies first initiated the guidelines, but they are currently worth a piece of my mind to the politicians that keep it in effect.

    I lie. I have flawless blood with perfect cholesterol, perfect iron, no diseases and an immune system that kicks the shit out of pancreatitus on a regular basis, if they don't want a gay man's blood (and not only gay, any man that has had any sexual contact with a man) simply because he's gay then I have no qualms about giving unwanted blood.

    Also, while the politicians in the big ugly boob house in DC still think we're 'unclean' the health care workers disagree with them. I go to the same clinic to give blood every time and have made a point to act Quite flamboyant every time I go (normally I am pretty masc.) and the ladies treat me very nicely and I always leave with a smile and a little less blood in my veins.

    Ps. I say, "Stick it to the man!" Pun Intended.

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    Jan 24, 2008 7:53 AM GMT
    My personal stance on lying leads me to pointedly state RC's policy on gay blood. And it isn't just the government, it is the RC board that voted to continue the ban too.

    They're outside of the theatre every other night we go so I get plenty of opportunity to remind them of their policy.
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    Jan 24, 2008 8:04 AM GMT
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/13/health/13cnd-organ.html?ref=health

    This is justification as to why the ban is still in effect. I agree that it should include high risk groups other than homosexuals, but as long as incidents like this are possible I can understand their impulse to cover their asses on the issue and continue to bar the best known high risk group from donating.

    I find the argument that you are getting an HIV test at the time of donation to be selfish and ignorant. If you think you might be infected there is the strong possibility you have the virus and have not yet developed detectable antibodies. You can still pass it along and go about your merry way with the false impression you are still HIV-.
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    Jan 24, 2008 8:26 AM GMT
    Bear with me for a while, but let me explain why I believe they put the MSM checkbox on the forms for donation:

    First the facts:
    a) It's pretty much a given that MSM have one of the highest rates of HIV infection. Yes, it might be a large generalization of our population, but it's a statistically accurate one and something that we have to deal with.
    b) The screening tests blood centers use (as well as the conventional HIV tests) are forms of what are called serological tests. Serological tests look for the bodies natural response to the HIV virus. They do not directly test for the virus itself. This is the reason why they say you must be tested 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year after potential exposure to HIV, because it takes time for your body to mount an immune response against the virus, and in some people it can take up to 1 year.
    c) There are two types of serologic tests that all blood donation centers will run to screen for HIV. The first is a screening test that has high sensitivity, but low specificity, which means that it's ~99% likely to pick up any HIV (type B at least) antibodies in an infected persons blood, but it's also noisy and likely to pick up other things that aren't HIV. The second test is a more specific test that they run on the blood that flags as positive using the first test. Combined, these tests have a 99% specificity rate, which means that it's likely they will always find HIV in the blood of a donor who is HIV positive.

    Now, knowing the above there are two very good reasons as to why they prefer MSM do not donate blood:

    1) In order to save money on screening (it's rather expensive to screen everyone individually), all blood centers pool samples of blood from about 40 donors and then use the first test on this pool. If no one tests positive from the first, very sensitive test, then they consider everyone in that batch HIV-. If, however, one person flags positive, they go through every single donor's blood and run the second, more specific test. Now you can imagine that it's pretty expensive to screen 40 people, which is one reason why they are taking precautions against having HIV infected blood pooled with the normal blood in the first place.
    2) More importantly, if you are newly infected (ie HIV+) and have not yet mounted an immune response (remember this could be up to 1 year after exposure! although its more likely to be within 1 month), then any blood you donate will *not* register as positive in the screening process, even though you are infected, and the blood will go unflagged and be transfused into a helpless recipient. Ie you will unwittingly transmit the virus to the donor recipient, because you won't turn positive on the tests until 1 month-1 year later even though the virus is already replicating in your body. This was the reason why 4 recipients of organ donations became HIV positive recently(the first case since the screening process was adopted), because the donor was newly infected with HIV and failed to register on the screening tests as HIV+. Those 4 recipients are now HIV+ (and hep C + too to boot)

    So I understand that its frustrating that we can't help out and donate blood, but I wouldn't want to transmit HIV to someone, and I don't think anyone here would either. So in reference to your friend who gets a "free" HIV test through this process, please ask them stop and reconsider what they're doing. It's not so much a political thing as it is a safety issue. The diagnostic tests are not 100% accurate and don't pick up new (less than ~ 1 month) infections.
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    Jan 24, 2008 8:47 AM GMT
    Thank you for being a voice of reason on this one and actually having some knowledge of the testing/screening practices mylife. I posted on this the first time because I was so shocked that none of the people that advocate and encourage lying took the infection/detection gap into account. Even if you feel you are at zero risk yourself, it is irresponsible to encourage others to lie and donate as well.
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    Jan 24, 2008 9:02 AM GMT
    I understand why they originally started this practice. It was, after all, during the very early days of HIV/AIDS and we knew very little about it. And up until then, I donated regularly.

    I had not donated or even attempted to since 1983... that is, not until 9/11 happened. It was the only way I could think of that I could help being that I'm universal (O+), so I went down to the local Red Cross and rolled up my sleeve... and was flatly rejected. I tried again last year. I have always tested negative, I had been celibate by choice at that point for 11 years and was, according to my doctor, well past the window period. So, test results in hand, I went back to the Red Cross and rolled up my sleeve again... and was flatly rejected.

    Honestly, the policy needs revising. I used to teach for the Red Cross. They are aware of the window period for HIV to show up after exposure. They are very aware of the facts regarding HIV, as is the majority of the medical community. They don't screen out the demographic groups that currently show the highest infection rates, nor do they ever take you off that list of MSMs... even if you've been celibate for a thousand years and have proof of a negative status. Somehow, it just seems like we and drug users were the only ones singled out...
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    Jan 24, 2008 9:16 AM GMT
    the window period has actually been reduced to 3 months. It was a year and then it was 6 months but now it is 3. So if you have hiv you will know it sooner rather than later. People lie the red cross is stupid not to consider that.
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    Jan 24, 2008 10:03 AM GMT
    Here in Tasmania a gay guy took the issue to the discrimination council, quite accurately pointing out that the question should not ask whether you have faggotty bum sex, but rather if you practice safe sex.

    That way they get the heterosexual people who are in the high risk category also.

    He lost and the policy has not changed.