TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Last Laugh! Racism and All That Rot

Re: Last Laugh! Racism and All That Rot

John Mayson (
Tue, 15 May 2007 10:56:26 -0500

Rick Merrill wrote:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: But those other conditions you named,
> i.e. high blood pressure, taking insulin, etc are all _medical_
> conditions which could influence the health of the donor. A healthy
> (i.e. no high blood pressure, no insulin, etc) homosexual does not
> fall in that category; there are no _medical_ restrictions with
> such a person. Now, granted, I am far from healthy, with high blood
> pressure and all that, but that was not what the Red Cross lady
> zeroed in on. Without examining my health at all, nor even claiming
> to do so, it was my _sexual orientation_ which got me rejected.
> PAT]

I have a rare blood type, so I'm a very frequent donor. They have
called me the very day I became eligible again claiming to have an
immediate need and asking I come in that very day. For that reason I
follow the blood donation "industry" (for the lack of a better term).

I'm not saying any of this is right or wrong. I'm just stating the
situation as I best understand it without any value judgment.

The FDA reviews their policies periodically. They have continued to
look at the question involving homosexual relationships. The problem
is statistically gay men have significantly higher (I've seen 10 times
higher being quoted) rates of not only HIV but other blood borne
illnesses such as hepatitis. Until this number falls more in line
with the general population, the FDA will not drop it. I'm not
claiming that's true or false, but that's what the FDA has said both
under Bush's and Clinton's administrations.

People who inject drugs not prescribed to them by a doctor (could be
illegal drugs or legal drugs not prescribed to them) may not donate
blood. It's possible an IV drug user is using clean needles and has
no health issues outside his drug addiction. But since IV drug users
have significantly higher rates of blood borne disease, they are
automatically disqualified.

There are many, many more heterosexual men in the population than gay
men and IV drug users combined. One heterosexual male in the pool
isn't going to raise the baseline much, but one homosexual male with
HIV makes more of an impact to that subset of the population because
it's a smaller population. For instance if you have 100 gay men in
one corner and 1,000 straight men in the other. One from each is HIV
positive. The homosexual group automatically has ten-times the
infection rate of the straight men.

I, as a non-drug using heterosexual male, could go out and have
unprotected sex with half the women in Austin and still be eligible to
donate. That's a little scary. The only thing that might disqualify
me is the question "Have you had sex with anyone who has tested
positive for HIV or the AIDS virus?". Truthfully I would have to
answer "I don't know." which would disqualify me. But by the same
token, a man could be in a monogamous relationship with another
monogamous man and both have 100% clean blood, but they can't donate.

I don't know if the FDA policy makes sense. I am against
discrimination based on sexual orientation. But I don't believe the
FDA rules are "anti-gay". They're trying to protect the public. Yes,
their logic is flawed. But I don't see the FDA as being full of
homophobes. Cynics will claim that if gays would stop being so
promiscuous, this wouldn't be a problem. Sympathizers will claim the
FDA needs to do a better job of testing the blood and not relying on
what people tell them (remember, anyone regardless of status could lie
their pants off during the interview).

John Mayson <>
Austin, Texas, USA

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I do not believe Red Cross takes blood
from anyone without thoroughly testing it. Why not just take blood
from all would-be donators and toss it out in the testing process as
required? And although some gay men are promiscuous, far many more live quiet
lives in monogamy with _one_ partner. The ones you hear about are the
promiscuous ones. I certainly agree the Red Cross logic on this is
very flawed, with hurtful results for many otherwise innocent men. PAT]

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