Hemophiliacs, homosexuals and the Red Cross

For approximately 25 years, male bisexuals and homosexuals have been barred from donating blood…  That ban in part was put in place because it has been said that the donated blood from that community eventually contaminated approximately 15,000 of the 25,000 severe hemophiliacs who prior to the ban regularly received large doses of blood transfusions — according to James Curry (who “headed the first AIDS task force at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention”)…  Of those who were contaminated, reportedly fewer than 2,000 are still alive…

There is now a movement afoot directed by some organizations that represent the homosexual community, to lift the ban that keeps certain homosexuals and bisexual men from donating blood.  The explanation given for wanting to do away with the restriction is that it is a civil rights issue — that the restriction discriminates against homosexuals/bisexuals and stigmatizes them in the eyes of their co-workers and fellow citizens whenever a blood drive is conducted.  Additionally, they say, so many safeguards have been put in place in the testing of blood that giving someone a transfusion with blood contaminated with HIV is practically impossible… 

In the article, a Mrs. Kathy Gerus-Darbison, whose husband (a severe hemophiliac who contracted HIV from contaminated blood, and died), has reservations…  She contracted HIV from her husband before they knew of the contamination, and now she herself is dying of AIDS…

Is it a civil rights issue or a public health issue?…  Although  Kathy Gerus-Darbison believes in equality among people in the area of Civil Rights, she seems to suggest that this issue ought not be presented as being a civil rights issue, but as a public health matter, and that the ban ought to remain…

From the perspective of this writer, she is common sensically correct.

[This post was written in reaction to and relies in part on information from an article in the Sunday April 4, 2010, LOS ANGELES TIMES, by Andrew Zajac.]

3 Responses

  1. Trey Givens’ blog has been added to the links on the right hand column of this page — in his Blog, the latest post he has on this topic is one titled: “What I think of Adding Gay Blood to our Supply”…

  2. PanAm,

    I, and the folks on that other blog, would agree that this is not a civil rights issue. This is a matter of fact and medical science.

    Like John over there, I find the idea of making political decisions based on what makes people feel good disgusting. What about MY feelings?

    But the debate does not stop there even as we look at this as a medical issue.

    Mr. Bagg on the other blog has cited numerous statistics showing that MSMs are a high-risk group when it comes to blood donations.

    Mr. Kerry, cited on my blog and that other one, claims that numerous medical authorities say that the ban is no longer medically justified.

    I am inclined to believe that the increase in risk associated with allowing MSM is low, but what is it exactly? What is the basis for Mr. Kerry & those donor organization’s claims? What is the current scope of the risk in allowing MSM to donate blood in either case?

    It has been argued that the decision is one of common sense, but given the number of facts that are simply unknown here, I find claims from common sense wanting.

    Moreover, John has expressed an extreme sensitivity to risk on this issue. He is unwilling to chance infection even if the odds are a zillion to one greater than they are currently. (Never mind that he doesn’t know what the odds are currently.) While I am willing to accept an increase in risk, but only if that risk is defined and within limits acceptable to me. I would not presume to tell John, as John presumes to tell me, that his sensitivity to risk makes him a “dumbass.”

    Further, the point I argue, which is up for debate on my blog, is that the current system is immoral and there is a huge opportunity on the free market for serving a greater number of patients by allowing patients to make informed decisions themselves.

  3. Let us logically take this further. How do we put safeguards into place, i.e. identify the donors by name, blood type and sexual preference. If the AIDS disease shows up in any donated blood can that specific donor be identified so murder charges can be brought against that specific donor? Insane, you say? The insanity is compromising the nation’s blood banks in order to restore someone’s missing common sense and self-esteem. Find a therapist.

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