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> Vampires prefer gays, So why doesn't the National Blood Service?
Daria
post Jan 2 2007, 10:54 PM
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I am a regular blood donor, and I try to take as many friends with me as possible. I have a male friend who is gay who desperately would like to give blood, but due to the question:

"Have you ever had sex with another man with OR without a condom"- to be answered by men ONLY.

He is not allowed to donate (he once had unprotected sex, but is not HIV positive).

Now, I spoke to my biology teacher after talking to my friend about it, and both she and I could not fathom why it would be that- if you have protected sex with someone who definitely is not HIV positive, and you aren't, what is wrong with it? There is no question for heterosexual men or women about having unprotected sex, or the number of sexual partners you have had in a certain amount of time, and due to the rising percentage of heterosexuals with HIV the question is just a ridiculous stereotype that targets homosexual men.

Well, the same friend came across this link:
http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/bloodban/
It is a petition FOR the use of "gay" blood. If you agree with it, I would be most grateful if you could sign it and make it a little more equal for homosexual men who wish to donate. Something needs to be done about it. We aren't in the 70's anymore when HIV was GRID, or Gay-Related Immune Deficiency.


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Moosh
post Jan 2 2007, 11:31 PM
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I totally agree, and have already signed said petition. I can't give blood anyway, due to having a rather crap body, but even if it wasn't I'd be screwed by the question about gay sex.

Personally, if I was in need of a blood transplant, I'd want gay blood.


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elphaba2
post Jan 2 2007, 11:44 PM
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And for the Americans who support the cause, here is a choice between two equally dodgy petitions: One (with 1,020 sigs)
deux (with 590 sigs)

I am a big supporter of this cause--yay Daria for thinking to pimp it here.


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Izzy
post Jan 3 2007, 12:05 AM
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I've signed both US petitions and think that the ban on gay men giving blood is really, really dumb. The more blood the merrier.


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Sir Psycho Sexy
post Jan 3 2007, 12:07 AM
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I also have had trouble understanding this, I have never been active on the homo-scene, but because of teenage experimentation, I'm restricted from donating what I'm sure is high quality merchandise. tongue.gif


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Mata
post Jan 3 2007, 01:41 AM
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The reasoning is this (make of it what you will):

HIV takes around three to four months before it is detectable

HIV from sex is statistically a larger risk for homosexual men than hetrosexual men (it's increasingly becoming an issue for lesbians because there is so much stigma regarding HIV as 'a man's disease' that few lesbians practice safe sex, but that's another issue)

if the chances that an actively gay male has been infected without their knowledge are significantly larger than those for a straight male then they would prefer to not take the risk.

Now, all this works on a couple of assumptions:

1. that the risk is significantly larger for gay men than straight men - which is slowly becoming untrue, but was reasonable for quite a long time

2. that gay men aren't capable of long-term monogamous relationships OR gay men are more promiscuous.

Point 1 society is unfortunately balancing (I say unfortunately because it means the infection is still spreading, not for any other malicious reason), point 2 is more tricky because it is attitudinal.

I have known gay men who take pride in not looking at relationships in the same way as straight people. They feel that by being unburdened from biological constraints such as families they have the right to live and fuck anyone they want (their word, not mine). They aren't the majority of people I have known, because I tended to find that crowd and their polemic very tedious indeed, but they do make up a significant proportion of the gay community. The problem is that it only takes one foolish-but-trustworthy person to get infected and they can spread it among friends who trust them for years before anyone knows. This is, naturally, a problem among straight people too, but there is a cultural difference in the attitude to sex that sometimes really doesn't help the gay scene.

I used to be incredibly supportive of the gay scene, but after a while I found that it's most keen proponents were often people who were stupid: they were stupid about people's rights to live how they want (you can't expect acceptance if you are not accepting yourself), they were aggressively opposed to anyone who they felt diluted the issues (because everything is always black and white, right and wrong), and sometimes they were also the most stupid about sexual activity. I'm still a supporter of equal rights, but I'm also a supporter of common sense - most of the time there is no problem there, but sometimes there is.

Should gay or bisexual men be automatically disallowed from donating blood? No, but should there be tougher rules for them? Yes, I think there should. That's just statistics. If they are at a higher risk of infection then it's only logical that their lifestyle should be more closely scrutinised.

Unfortunately, this is the kind of issue where logic muddies the issues, which was why I was unpopular sometimes in discussions about gay rights: people who live alternative lifestyles from the 'normal' have to be aware if there are increased risks. That's fine for them, but blood donation isn't about them, it's about who the blood goes into, and the most strict possible monitoring possible needs to be in place.

(This all said, the straight community often leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to fidelity too, but even with this taken into account the risks of HIV infection are higher in the gay community.)


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Witless
post Jan 3 2007, 12:07 PM
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My experience is similar to mata in that among my gay friends they tend to be airly monogamous or at the least form relationships along with sexual relationships. But the majority I meet outside of that seem to just have sex with whomever under the over used banner of "you only live once".

So yeah I do believe as a result there should be tougher screening for gay people than straight, but denying them the ability to be donors outright seems a bit daft, especially during blood shortage times.

I mean let's put this into perspective:
QUOTE
An estimated 63,500 adults were living with HIV in the UK at the end of 2005, of whom 20,100 (32%) were unaware of their infection.

Assuming the only people that would try and give blood are the 20,100 people (I'll assume right away that anyone knowingly having aids wouldn't try and give blood), then out of the 60 million people in the UK then that's slightly more than 0.03% of people. That's very very very few people causing a hell of alot worry.

The number of men that have experimented with same sex relations inthe UK is estimated at 4.3% (if you're inerested for women it's 9.1% (survery here)). That's a potential 1,290,000 men that aren't allowed to donate on the basis of a maximum of 20,100 people. This is all assuming that all 20,100 of these peopele wandering around without knowing they're infected are men, which as I have already said, they aren't.

Once again maths proves that people are dorks.

But on a serious note yeah, perhaps slighty tougher restrictions for gay guys. Knocking 1,290,000 guys out of the donating pool seems foolish each and every time there's a blood shortage.
At the time of writing this post I was unable to find any stats online, but I would love to know how many peoples lives are put on the line as a direct result of the blood shortages we get at certain times of year in the UK.

P.S yes yes yes, many stats I've used are based on estimates. My point stands however, there are lots of people that cannot donate based on a very small infection rate in the UK, it's all silly.


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elphaba2
post Jan 3 2007, 12:49 PM
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And all blood recieved is tested and double-tested anyway--not that a person with HIV ought to go in willy-nilly giving blood, but it's not as though the red cross (or any other organization) runs the whole thing by the honors system.

My health classes have all taught me that the risk of bleeds* during anal sex promoted the chance of getting any infection--predominantly HIV, which is always the reason given to me for why gay blood is not used. Of course, the degree of promiscuity among a certain sect of gay men must also have been taken into consideration.

*well, not bleeds, but the tissues are less elastic than those involved in typical heterosexual sex and tend to get little cracks and sores much faster if not gone about very carefully. Lies spread by suburban health teachers based on outdated information? (They've done it before with that awful London-based study linking marijuana use in teen years to development of schizophrenia, I wouldn't be surprised.)


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Phyllis
post Jan 3 2007, 04:24 PM
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QUOTE (elphaba2 @ Jan 3 2007, 12:49 PM) *
*well, not bleeds, but the tissues are less elastic than those involved in typical heterosexual sex and tend to get little cracks and sores much faster if not gone about very carefully. Lies spread by suburban health teachers based on outdated information? (They've done it before with that awful London-based study linking marijuana use in teen years to development of schizophrenia, I wouldn't be surprised.)

Nope, not lies. It's true that the anus tears and bleeds much more readily than the vagina, which can potentially help to spread the infection. They'll tell you the same thing in uni-level Human Sexuality courses, but they'll also tell you things like the number and gender of parents to a child doesn't matter as long as they are loving and supportive...so I don't think they have any sort of hidden agenda (well, at my uni, anyway).

Anyway, the policy probably once made some amount of sense considering the fact that when AIDS was first discovered the majority of those infected were gay men. For some time now, however (at least in the US and Africa...not sure about the UK), heterosexual women have been the fastest growing group in terms of new infections. And since blood is double tested anyway...it really doesn't make much sense at all anymore to exclude men who have had anal sex with other men.


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Mata
post Jan 3 2007, 06:36 PM
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I've often wondered: because it takes around three months after infection for HIV be to be detected, does that mean that blood donated during that period could infect another person? It seems to me that it would and that it would also pass the double testing procedure - if it's not detectable for three months and the person is infected then why would they be able to find it in the screening process? I have little knowledge of this aspect of things, so someone please fill in any gaps or refute this if you know more!


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Moosh
post Jan 3 2007, 07:16 PM
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If HIV is undetectable within 3 months, why not ask,

"Have you ever had sex with another man in the past 3 months?"

or even 4 months, to be sure, and free up people who, like SPS said above, experimented when they were teenagers and are now banned from donating for life?


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Faerieryn
post Jan 3 2007, 09:31 PM
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Silly spammish question but Why do Vampirs prefer gays? Or Gampires prefer Vays for that matter?


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Daria
post Jan 3 2007, 11:24 PM
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QUOTE (Faerieryn @ Jan 3 2007, 09:31 PM) *
Silly spammish question but Why do Vampirs prefer gays? Or Gampires prefer Vays for that matter?

biggrin.gif I wanted an eye-catching title, and I know that you'd all be intrigued by vampires.


I should have added this to my original post-

I'm not advocating that ALL gay men should be allowed to give blood- I think that it should depend on their sexual habits and recent partners. There should also be more discrimination against heterosexual people (male and female) who sleep about willy nilly, without protection. I think that the questionnaire should perhaps ask, as Moosh suggested, about your recent sexual activity.

I always wonder why it doesn't ask women whether they have had protected OR unprotected anal sex when surely it is the same principle. If it was, a lot more of us would not be able to donate.

Elphaba- weed smoking at a tender young age DOES affect you neurologically. Without looking it up, I couldn't tell you EXACTLY what it does- but it is believed that if you are innately susceptible to mental illness then by smoking you put yourself at a much higher risk of messing up your head.
And that is coming from someone who thinks marijuana should be fully legalised.


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elphaba2
post Jan 4 2007, 01:01 AM
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I've read the study--as a matter of fact I've read all three of the studies of the same topic that the media jumped on last year. They've all said the same thing: that 15-year old marijuana smokers stand a better chance of developing schizophrenia (or depression, as one study examined) than non-smoking 15-year olds. Except after removing from the sample those marijuana smokers who experienced any sort of psychosis at age 11. To wit: those who were showing schizophrenic symptoms-- before smoking pot. After they did this, the p value jumped up, leaving the researchers without significant data. So they said, "Screw it," and published the studies anyway.

Pot is not a good thing for your brain, but it will not make you develop mental disorders. A few scientists have put forth the idea that there could be either a genetic or behavioral component to drug addiction (in particular, marijuana and nicotine) in persons with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A genetic link has already been found between depression and alcoholism, and it's been suggested that marijuana might ease the schizo-affective behaviors many teens who grow on to develop schizophrenia often experience (autism-like social disconnects, primarily).

Sorry if that is muddy, I am a little frazzled. Basically, it is what you said, without the "pot making it worse" bit. I don't mean for this to become an argument of any sort, but it's a big irritation button for me because of the widespread reporting of the studies mentioned up top.


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