MercatorNet: Battle over blood
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Battle over blood

The ban on homosexuals donating blood is far too risky to lift.
Dale O'Leary | 27 May 2010
“Discriminatory” restrictions on homosexuals donating blood should berelaxed, according to one of the world’s leading AIDSresearchers. Writing in the latest issue of the CanadianMedical Association Journal, Mark Wainberg, head of the McGill UniversityAIDS Centre, says, “With the development of more sensitive HIV detection tests,the potential occurrence of a false-negative result is now remote”. Lifting theban would increase the blood supply substantially. "Current policy iscounterproductive in regard to loss of donors, good will, student protests,potential boycotts, lawsuits etc." says Dr Wainberg.

This is the latest ammunition for gay activists around the world whowant the ban on donating blood to be lifted. For example, in the United Statesa man who had sex with a man after 1977 is permanently barred from givingblood. The Gay Men’sHealth Crisis thinks a man should be allowed to give blood six months afterhaving sex with a man. They argue that improved testing makes the current banunnecessary.

A statement from the WorldFederation of Hemophilia points out that “By their very nature blood donorscreening and deferral criteria are discriminatory… they are a method to reducethe risk of known, unknown, undetectable or emerging viruses and/or otherdisease causing agents being passed to recipients of blood or blood products.”

The gay activists cannot argue that men who have sex with men (MSM) areno more likely to be infected with a blood-borne disease than other populations.The CDC recently announceda study which found that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM was 44 times higherthan among other men and the rate of primary or secondary syphilis 46 times thatof other men.

The gay activists want us to ignore the fact that MSM are in the midstof an on going epidemic of STDs. History teaches us that such epidemics canhave catastrophic consequences.

In 1981 whenthe first cases of what would later be known as AIDS were reported, there wasalready an epidemic of STDs among MSM.

Accordingto Randy Shilts, author of And the BandPlayed On, who later died of AIDS:

Dr. Selma Dritz, the infectious disease specialist for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, was also concerned. She knew the statistics. In the fall of 1980, she gave a speech at the monthly meeting of STD experts, where she presented the grim statistics: Hepatitis-B, shigella, and amebiasis had all increased dramatically during the 1970s among single men in their 30s. She warned, "Too much is being transmitted... We've got all these diseases going unchecked. There are so many opportunities for transmission that, if something new gets loose here, we're going to have hell to pay."

Dritz wasprophetic. As she spoke, HIV was already making its way through the gaycommunity and soon thousands of gay men were dying of AIDS. By mid 80s, itappeared that MSM were being more careful, but by the late 90s, the party wasback on.

In  his 1997 book, Sexual Ecology, gay activist Gabriel Rotello looked at the HIVepidemic among MSM and predicted a dangerous future:

Almost every researcher studying the epidemic is convinced of one overarching fact: that if gay men ever re-recreate the sexual conditions of the seventies, the same kind of thing will happen again with other microbes. There are already drug-resistant or incurable diseases circulating in the gay population-things like hepatitis C, antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, various strains of herpes – and they all stand poised to sweep through the gay population the moment we provide them an opportunity to spread. There are still others that, as of this writing, are only dimly understood, such as the viral cause of Kaposi’s sarcoma. And, say the experts there are probably many more microbes whose existence we know nothing about, just as we once knew nothing about HIV,

If anything, in 2010 in spite of all the education and research, thingsare worse. MSM complain about condom fatigue. Thousands of MSM attend circuitparties, where sex and drugs are on the program. Millions use the gay social networking siteManhunt to hook up. Crystal meth use among MSM is epidemic andassociated with unsafe sex.

So far, we have been lucky because hard working medical experts havebeen able to keep ahead of the diseases spreading among MSM -- but just barely.For all we know another disease could be hiding in the blood or tissues of MSM,one with a long incubation period, perhaps another form of hepatitis; oranother cancer causing virus like herpes 8 or HPV; or a well known diseasecould mutate into a form not recognized by current testing, as happenedrecently in Sweden where a new form of Chlamydia was missed in testingbecause it had mutated.

The current “discriminatory” strategy has been incredibly successful inprotecting recipients. While not eliminating every transmission of infection byblood or blood products, the numbers of new blood-borne infections is tiny. Ofcourse, each infection is still a tragedy.

Gay activists want us to rely on improved testing to weed out infectedblood, but those in charge of the blood supply point out that current methodsare not perfect and an increase in donations by MSM would increase the risk.

More importantly, it is not the diseases we know about and have testsfor that must concern those in charge of the blood supply, it is the diseaseswe don’t know about and don’t have tests for. The only way to guard againstsuch infections is to “discriminate” against high-risk groups. 

MSM are a high-risk group because from the beginning of the HIV/AIDSepidemic, gay AIDS activists rejected proven public health measures. Theyinsisted that education and condom distribution would be enough to control theepidemic. Their strategy has failed miserably.

Why should those who have implemented a successful strategy be forcedto accommodate those who continue to defend a failed strategy.

When the gay activists can prove that the rate of STDs and HIVinfection among MSM is no higher than the rate in the general public, then, andonly then, should we even consider lifting the ban on blood donation by MSM.

Asaspokesman for Canadian Blood Services said in response to Dr Wainberg’sidea: “The key for us is that there isn’t medical consensus on the matter…Patient safety comes first and we won’t make any policy changes that would putthe blood supply at risk.”

Dale O’Learyis a US writer with a special interest in psychosexual issues and is theauthor of two books: “One Man, One Woman" and“The Gender Agenda”.

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | blood donation, homosexuality
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