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Ban on Gays Donating Blood
Mar 13, 2010

Dr. Bob,

I was just reading about a new push to remove gays from the ban on blood donation. This was strange to read, because my friend and I had just been debating this issue. I was telling him how I was turned away from donating in 2000, because I answered honestly that I had sex with men since 1970-something. Evidently, just jacking off with a guy would ban you. I remember I was so angry. The form didn't ask straight people how many partners they had. It just asked about gay sex, prostitution, and IV drug use. I felt it was wrong to ban gays while straights could have 1,000 partners.

I called the director of the our local Red Cross. I wanted to know how asking that question was going to insure the blood supply. I thought there were tests that should pick it up and it shouldn't matter. I think most Americans now believe the supply is totally safe. I was told they ask that question "to insure the blood supply." I told her most people would probably lie. I asked whether they are really counting on a form to insure the supply. She said because HIV may not show up right away, they ask that question "to insure the blood supply." I told her the blood supply isn't safe then. If they don't feel their tests are good enough, then asking that question is useless. I've seen during huge accidents/crisis, the Red Cross saying they need blood right away. I'm assuming this means they are turning that blood back out very quickly.

I'm wondering what you've thought of this ban on gays? I know gay men make up the majority of new HIV infections. It just seems the blood supply isn't totally safe if they are counting on gays answering that question honestly. Besides, it shouldn't matter. It seems very risky to assume the supply is safe by banning gays.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

The ban has absolutely no scientific or even common sense basis. See below.

Dr. Bob

The Issue of Blood donation!!!! (BLOOD DONATION) Feb 9, 2008

Hi Dr. Bob,

I don`t understand why they do not allow gay men to donate blood. I mean isn`t there just as much chance that a straight person has HIV. And how does the donation process work anyhow?? After blood is donated they can;t use it right away can they? I mean isn`t there a chance that a person may have contracted the virus a few weeks before donating and it would not show up in the screening process. I mean I am a straight female, married with children and I am not involved in any activity that could make me contract the virus, however I could go to the dentist,or doctor for blood tests and as much as we have to trust that they use clean needles and instruments etc, there is a chance that they don`t and someone could contract the virus. So shouldn't the blood be kept somewhere for 3 months anyway and get tested before it is given to someone??

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I've written about this unwarranted and unjustifiable policy many times over the years. (Check the archives.) There is absolutely no medical or scientific rational to justify it. Once our science-phobic, common-sense challenged current inhabitant of the White House leaves office, this and other immoral unscientific policies will be abolished. Other countries have lifted similar bans quite some time ago. Costa Rica is the most recent. See below.

Dr. Bob

Costa Rica Lifts Ban on Gay Blood Feb 9, 2008

Costa Rica Lifts Ban on Gay Blood Donations August 13, 2007 by Dylan Vox

Los Angeles, CA - The United States is still under the antiquated rule that gay men are not allowed to donate blood because of the risk of spreading infectious disease. This month, Costa Rica showed that they might be a few steps ahead of us as President Oscar Arias signed an executive order to lift their ban.

Earlier this year, despite a recommendation from the American Red Cross and other blood sources, the FDA refused to lift the American ban on blood donations from gay people. The Red Cross has criticized the policy as "medically and scientifically unwarranted," but the US Government felt that the risk of introducing HIV and AIDS into the blood supply was still too much of a risk to recall the lifetime ban.

Activist Alberto Cabezas, who led the drive to lift the ban in Costa Rica, saw his work come to fruition this month when Arias signed the order which would again allow gays to donate blood. Cabezas said that the action proved that the government "sees gays as humans [who] have the same rights" as others.

Since the first out break of HIV in the 70's, many countries have banned blood donations from men who have had sex with other men. Even though any group is at risk, and in some cases more at risk than homosexuals, the ban on gays has become commonplace. Gay rights groups have fought to lift the US ban stating that the practice was discriminatory.

Gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell explained that the ban on gay blood donors "is based on the assumption that all homosexual and bisexual men are 'high risk' for HIV," and that the "policy seems to reflect homophobic prejudices, not medical facts."

The hope is that Costa Rica will set a precedent for other countries to follow.

Copyright 2007 GayWired.com, All Rights Reserved Comments: Comment Order: Newest FirstOldest First

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Thanks! Unfortunately there is not much hope the U.S. will follow suit until King George the "W" ends his Reign of Error.

Dr. Bob

re: Why are blood donation requirements so stringent? Jan 26, 2010

1) Why is it so important to you? If I'm about to fall off a cliff, you reach out to me, and I bat your hand away; are you going to jump after me? The fact that you are willing to donate of yourself speaks highly of you. The fact that you are upfront and honest about a "disqualifying event" that happened decades ago speaks even more highly of you. Not many heterosexual men would freely admit to having had gay sex, ever. Your insistance/taking offense raises a red flag (the red cross is not for the donor.) The "rules" have to be stringent because sometimes rules get stretched and/or misinterpreted. It has to be "yes or no" because the person with the needle is not necessarily qualified to deal with "maybe." Do the rules make any sense? No... gay sex is far and away not the statistical top means of viral transmission. In fact, as gay sex usually includes a barrier, it is safer for me to receive blood from a gay man than from my girlfriends*.

2) The USA has become the USSR (United States of Silly Rules). eg If I were to be convicted of draft evasion, I would never be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, including by conscription (Clinton, Biden, and Cheney had "student deferments," Quayle and Bush joined the Guard instead - ie not evasion, not convicted, but not drafted either). "...of Silly Rules."

3)* One of my girlfriends seroconverted after receiving a transfusion back before those rules were there.

4) This is the stupidity of it all: I could have UNSAFE sex with her, and donate blood on the spot per the donation questionaire where I go to donate (I am HIV negative, hetero, drug free, and have never been convicted of a felony). But if I were to have had "SAFE sex" with a guy once upon a time, or were I jailed in solitary confinement for years, I could not. But before those "stringent" requirements existed... *

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Thanks for your comments to the questioner below. I agree the blood donation restrictions fail both the common sense test as well as scientific rationale criteria!

Dr. Bob

Why are blood donation requirements so stringent? Jan 25, 2010

Why are the requirements to give blood so stringent? Like one incident of gay sex 30 years ago is enough to rule you out, even after testing negative to HIV?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Excellent question for which there is no scientific (or even logical) answer! Check out the information in the chapter on blood donation in the archives of this forum.

Dr. Bob



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