Monday, May 21, 2007

Government response to petition on blood donation

Here's a petition I signed on the Number 10 website:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Overturn the National Blood Service (NBS) ban stopping Gay and Bi (G&B) Men giving Blood."

Details of petition:
"Blood in the UK is tested for HIV and Hep B&C before use. The NBS say the record for testing is exceptionally good. Last year patients received three million+ units of blood and blood products, 6 of which were infected with a blood borne infection (or only 1/100th more of a risk if Gay and Bi men were to donate). UN and World Health Organisation position for blood donation is not to discriminate against groups of individuals. HIV is now at its fast growing rate in the heterosexual community. The polices of the NBS are outdated, making decisions as to whether or not your allowed to give blood on how honest you are. Internationally the following countries repealed their life Bans on G&B men giving blood: Italy South Africa Sweden Spain Portugal Russia France This petition is calling on the government to do the following: 1 Carry out a review of these NBS policies. 2 Overturn the current policy against G&B Men and instead discriminate against unsafe sexual practices."

Here's the response from the Government:

The Government has a duty to ensure that any rules applied to blood donation by the National Blood Service (NBS) achieve a balance between risk reduction and security of supply. The self exclusion criterion concerning gay men has been reached through a close analysis of the epidemiology of confirmed HIV and Hepatitis B positive tests among blood samples from people donating blood at United Kingdom Blood Service sessions.

The Government has been advised that every year from the analysis of nearly three million donations collected by the United Kingdom and Irish Blood Services, about 40 donations are confirmed to be positive for HIV. Of these, a third to a half are given by men who, following further enquiries by the NBS, reveal that they are gay men. Some are donating for the first time but some have given at least once in the previous two years and tested negative on the previous occasion. These figures indicate that some gay men are still giving blood in spite of the current rules.

Although safer sex campaigns have had an impact, it is still considered that the risk of gay men being infected with HIV remains sufficiently high to include the criterion that they should not donate blood. Unfortunately, this means there will be healthy gay men who would be suitable for giving blood but who are excluded by the rule.

However, it is not practical to expect donor session staff to be able to differentiate between gay men with lower or with higher risk lifestyles, so all gay men have to be excluded.

Any thoughts?

I think I'm particularly disturbed by the last line. It seems to me its like the police saying 'It's impractical for us to differentiate between black when who are criminals and black men who are not, so we have to assume all black men are criminals.'


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