Canadian Blood Services wants to change its current policy, and allow gay men to donate, but only if they've been celibate for 5 years (cbc.ca)

canada

44 ups - 9 downs = 35 votes

80 comments submitted at 21:05:11 on Jan 13, 2013 by fernguts

  • [-]
  • enemy_anemone
  • -3 Points
  • 21:11:29, 13 January

This is ridiculous. They should be allowed to donate just like everyone else.

  • [-]
  • oldman78
  • 9 Points
  • 22:27:59, 13 January

Facts for the interested:

Male-to-male sexual contact (MSM) is the leading vector for HIV transmission in men.

Heterosexual contact is the leading vector for HIV transmission in women.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada slightly more than 3/4 of HIV patients are male. And the bulk of HIV diagnoses are amongst whites.

Thus, your demographically average HIV patient would be a white male who engages in MSM.

It would lead one to logically conclude that Canadian Blood Services is doing its due diligence in risk-reduction for their users by singling out high-risk populations for exclusion from the donation pool. Fair? No. But neither is turning a blind eye to the most dangerous sources of blood and increasing the danger to those who receive transfusions. Canadian Blood Services also excludes intravenous drug users and those who have been sexually active in regions where HIV is endemic for the same reason.

As a side note, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and BC make up a cumulative 93% of all reported cases since monitoring began in the mid 1980's.

Here is a link to the entire PHAC report.

  • [-]
  • dataminingiscool
  • 4 Points
  • 00:02:22, 14 January

3/4 of HIV patients being male is completely understandable, as the male homosexual community is by far the most promiscuous (not individually, just at the extents of the distribution, so the median homosexual has a similar number of partners as the median heterosexual, but the top 1 percentile homosexual has many more partners than the top 1 percentile heterosexual) and less likely to use protection.

While the average HIV patient might be while male who engages in MSM, it is more accurate to say that the fact that one has been a MSM is the correlating factor. For example, even though white people make up more than 80% of the population, they only make up 50% of the HIV cases in the most recently reported year. So if there is entrance criteria, it should be focused on the bayesian probability of infection.

  • [-]
  • oldman78
  • 2 Points
  • 01:51:47, 14 January

Absolutely true, my demographically average patient was a generalization, not a statistically sound assertion. MSM contact is by far the most telling indicator. Hence the ease with which Canadian Blood Services disqualifies a would-be-donor on that basis alone.

BTW, what's your source for the data on the number of sexual partners?

  • [-]
  • dataminingiscool
  • 1 Points
  • 02:29:27, 14 January

I did an analysis for a mock public policy report in one of my few artsy electives while at school for engineering. I had access to Waterloo's scientific journals, but I could probably find it again.

  • [-]
  • dataminingiscool
  • 2 Points
  • 02:37:03, 14 January

Here is the first reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promiscuity#Male_promiscuity

  • [-]
  • oldman78
  • 1 Points
  • 04:15:50, 14 January

Solid. Just don't want to go around saying "I heard from a guy on the internet."

  • [-]
  • dikky
  • 13 Points
  • 21:23:41, 13 January

reducing risk to save lives takes priority over political correctness

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • 0 Points
  • 06:01:38, 14 January

Protecting the institution of marriage and the ability of our species to procreate and survive takes priority over political correctness

Protecting the cotton trade and the economy of the confederacy takes priority over political correctness

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • -5 Points
  • 03:04:30, 14 January

Allowing me to donate my HIV negative blood has absolutely nothing to do with political correctness, and it is in my opinion kind of homophobic for you to reduce discrimination against gay people down to political correctness.

Allowing me to donate my HIV negative blood does absolutely nothing to reduce the risk to anyone, and it is patently homophobic to suggest that it does.

  • [-]
  • Beneneb
  • 3 Points
  • 03:36:01, 14 January

It's not homophobic, if they eliminated that rule then the there would be an increase in the number of people contracting HIV through blood transfusions. Do you think it is worth having additional people get HIV just so that you don't feel discriminated against?

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • 0 Points
  • 05:07:10, 14 January

It is homophobic to suggest that people are suggesting that they "eliminate" that rule... to suggest that the current rule must be the way it is or else more people would contract HIV through blood transfusions. You are not telling the truth, when you say that more people will be infected with HIV through the blood supply. You are not telling the truth when you say that the issue is whether or not people "feel" discriminated against.

  • [-]
  • xiic
  • 5 Points
  • 03:24:41, 14 January

It doesn't matter. The statistics state otherwise. You can be as outraged as you want but until gay men are statistically not significantly more likely to carrying stds, this policy will likely stay in effect.

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • 0 Points
  • 05:12:06, 14 January

It has nothing to do with being outraged.

It is a simple fact of reality, that no one is put at risk of contracting HIV if I donate my HIV negative blood.

You can be as defeatist if you like, and your homophobic opinion can be as popular is it is, but that doesn't change reality.

>but until gay men are statistically not significantly

You are not right. The situation will change when people realize that it is more important to base the rules on mitigating risk than it is to simply select a minority group arbitrarily and consider the risk. Can you even see the difference?

The statistics do not say otherwise. There is a statistical probability of zero of my HIV negative blood infecting the blood supply.

  • [-]
  • xiic
  • -1 Points
  • 05:22:20, 14 January

First of all, stop calling everyone who doesn't agree with you a homophobe, try not to hide behind accusations so much.

Second, you clearly don't understand how statistics works. In 2008, 45% of all reported HIV positive adults were gay men. Just because you don't have it does not mean that opening up the blood bank pool to a minority community that represents such a disproportionate threat to our general health and safety is a good idea.

Stop feeling so persecuted, the blood donation process has other criteria, gays are not singled out any more than drug abuse or severe promiscuity are.

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • 1 Points
  • 05:27:13, 14 January

>First of all, stop calling everyone who doesn't agree with you a homophobe, try not to hide behind accusations so much.

Please do not make false accusations against me. I have not called anyone a homophobe. I will continue to identify opinions which I consider to be homophobic as "homophobic", and you can not bully me into not doing this. I am not making accusations.

>Second, you clearly don't understand how statistics works.

This is an argument ad hominem.

>the blood donation process has other criteria, gays are not singled out any more than drug abuse or severe promiscuity are.

You just compared being gay to being a drug abuser or engaging in severe promiscuity.

You don't have anything to fear from my HIV negative blood. The idea that allowing HIV negative gay men to donate blood increases the risk of infecting people with HIV, is patently homophobic.

You have made false accusations against me, mischaracterized my opinions, made arguments ad hominem against me, and attempted to bully me, all because I expressed my opinion of a discriminatory situation against me as a gay man. That act is a homophobic act. I'm sorry if reading those words offends you, but it is what it is, and I can not pretend it is not.

  • [-]
  • xiic
  • 1 Points
  • 06:23:18, 14 January

You accused me of having a homophobic opinion thereby judging me as a homophobe, don't try and pretend you are doing anything but whining in self-pity.

I listed criteria by which those who know more about this than we do decide who to accept blood donation from. If you're ok with crack addicts donating blood then this argument can stop here. I did not equate being gay with being a drug abuser, if you seriously think you are so persecuted, try living in a different country.

The fact of the matter is neither you nor I are prepared to pass judgement on the situation at hand. I have statistics and precedent on hand, you have a childish attitude and are hiding behind some perceived persecution. You think I'm bullying you? You're a moron and being gay has nothing to do with it, I'm sure there are statistically more straight morons than gay ones but I bet that makes you feel insignificant in some way and I'm sure you'll complain.

And regarding my "ad hominim" attack, you claimed that your situation had any statistical relevance at all which I find hilariously delusional.

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • 1 Points
  • 06:25:37, 14 January

You can't just say that no one is allowed to examine opinions you express.

  • [-]
  • xiic
  • 1 Points
  • 06:27:16, 14 January

>your homophobic opinion

>I will continue to identify opinions which I consider to be homophobic as "homophobic",

Your words, not mine.

  • [-]
  • dikky
  • 0 Points
  • 04:23:23, 14 January

there are plenty of crack addicts that have safe blood to give does that mean we should remove a ban on them too?

you clearly don't understand the concept of reducing risk

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • 1 Points
  • 05:00:19, 14 January

You just compared being gay to being a crack addict.

  • [-]
  • aardvarkious
  • 1 Points
  • 06:57:30, 14 January

Morally are they the same? No. But if the only thing you are considering is the likelihood of individuals in certain groups to have HIV, it is a fare comparison.

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • 1 Points
  • 07:04:52, 14 January

>But if the only thing you are considering is the likelihood of individuals in certain groups

See, that's exactly the problem.

  • [-]
  • enemy_anemone
  • -9 Points
  • 21:31:25, 13 January

>reducing risk to save lives takes priority over political correctness

What risk are they reducing? You're aware they test the blood, right?

  • [-]
  • dikky
  • 13 Points
  • 21:40:02, 13 January

you're aware there is a significant period where HIV can't be detected by tests right?

5 years is a reasonable compromise

  • [-]
  • enemy_anemone
  • -7 Points
  • 21:44:11, 13 January

I don't think it's a reasonable compromise, since merely being homosexual doesn't mean that you're at greater risk of getting AIDS. Unsafe sex, regardless of sexual orientation, is the culprit.

If they were being fair, they would ask potential donors if they had engaged in any unsafe sex for the past five years, and then disqualify them if they said "yes," regardless of their sexual orientation.

The fact that they single out gays is discriminatory.

  • [-]
  • dikky
  • 8 Points
  • 21:51:12, 13 January

you can steer the discussion around discrimination and what is right vs wrong all you want, but the simple fact is if you allow this group of people to donate then the rate of infection through blood transfusions WILL increase.

Hopefully it's not someone you love that has to lose a good chunk of their years because of political correctness. This is a decision that needs to be left to scientists who can properly weigh how to get the most benefit from blood donations while reducing harm as much as possible.

  • [-]
  • enemy_anemone
  • -6 Points
  • 21:54:22, 13 January

No, this one group isn't putting anyone at increased risk. If they asked everyone the same questions, and applied the same rules to everyone, they would be doing just fine.

  • [-]
  • RoboticWang
  • 7 Points
  • 23:30:10, 13 January

You're wrong. Men who engage in sex with other men pose a statistically significant increased risk of contaminating the blood supply. Looked at in conjunction with the potential gains in increased blood volume, the risk outweighs the rewards due to the very small increase in blood that would be achieved compared to the extra costs and time it would take to process blood with a higher infection rate.

You may as well be arguing that bans on IV drug users are discriminatory towards heroin addicts. The ban is based on the risk factor, which is then compared to the potential gains. In the case of homosexual men, drug users, people who've lived in certain countries, etc., they don't represent enough of the population so that the increases in blood volume would offset the extra costs and risks of accepting their blood.

There is no scientifically valid reason that all groups should be treated the same when not all groups pose the same risk. I think I once suggested you take some remedial statistics classes if you want to engage in discussions like this and that advice is still applicable.

  • [-]
  • exasperation
  • 4 Points
  • 21:52:26, 13 January

Even if you're having safe sex, you're at heightened risk of HIV if you're gay and having anal sex.

Condoms are only about 85% effective. Partners cheat at nontrivial rates.

From a population level view, even men who believe they are in a monogamous gay relationship and are using condoms for anal sex are still significantly more likely to be HIV+ than the heterosexual non-drug-using population at large.

What I would like to see is the criteria only cover men who have had anal sex with men and within the last 12 months, as many gay men don't have anal sex and there's little evidence for a 5 year period over one year.

  • [-]
  • drmoo66
  • 6 Points
  • 22:02:08, 13 January

I just love how on any other day, Science is considered the Gold standard of Truth around here.

Yet when the Science says something /r/Canada disagrees with, they scream louder than Jenny McCarthy.

  • [-]
  • enemy_anemone
  • -5 Points
  • 21:56:28, 13 January

If you're heterosexual, you'll have the same risk of a condom breaking while engaging in anal sex. This may be a shocking revelation to you, but... heterosexuals have anal sex too.

If they asked the same set of questions, and applied the same rules to everyone, it would be just the same.

  • [-]
  • exasperation
  • 6 Points
  • 21:58:58, 13 January

> This may be a shocking revelation to you, but... heterosexuals have anal sex too.

Yes, but they have it with heterosexuals, who as a population have a very low HIV rate, and thus the chance of HIV transmission for any particular act of heterosexual anal sex is considerably lower than the chance of HIV transmission for any particular act of homosexual anal sex.

  • [-]
  • enemy_anemone
  • -3 Points
  • 22:18:39, 13 January

You're not listening to me. If they asked the same questions, and applied the same criteria to everyone equally, then the same exact result would be achieved.

You're arguing that because gays get AIDS more than straights, that it's ok to discriminate against them in this way. But wait! Blacks and Latinos get AIDs at a much higher rate than whites. So are you going to support rules that outright reject black and Latino blood donors as well?

  • [-]
  • exasperation
  • 8 Points
  • 22:32:40, 13 January

> Blacks and Latinos get AIDs at a much higher rate than whites. So are you going to support rules that outright reject black and Latino blood donors as well?

Outright? No. No more than I support an outright ban on MSM donors (hint: if you read my comments you'd know I don't support an outright ban.)

But at this point, in America, it would probably be wise to put a bar on young black female donors, unless they're exclusive condom users or haven't had anal or vaginal sex at all.

It probably won't be too long before the CDC ends up being forced to institute something like that, given the skyrocketing HIV rate in that demographic.

  • [-]
  • aardvarkious
  • 0 Points
  • 07:01:07, 14 January

Yes, if the statistics were similar, I would be fine with the same rules applied based on race as based on orientation.

  • [-]
  • Penelope771
  • 5 Points
  • 00:27:43, 14 January

I'm a lesbian and a gay rights activist, but this is why it makes sense (from your link):

> NAT testing begins with a number of blood samples being 'pooled' together in the laboratory. If the result of a pool of samples is negative, all samples in the pool are negative. If the pool is positive, then the samples are tested in smaller pools and then individually until the actual positive sample is identified.

Samples are pooled together and if there are no contaminants found, the entire batch is good to go. If any contaminant is found, each donor package now has to be tested individually, which means more time and resources are used to screen the blood before it can enter the blood supply.

Since gay men are much more likely to contaminate the sample pool, it means more positive results, which means more time and effort spent testing individual samples instead of testing them in a batch. You're effectively increasing the amount of time it takes to process blood by over 1000% any time a single contaminant is found. This delay in processing would then contribute to a decrease in available blood, which is not very good when your goal was to increase the blood supply.

It also increases the odds of infection since testing is not 100% effective. It's also worth noting that I am allowed to donate blood because gay women do not carry the same risks. This alone should tell you it isn't being done to penalize gay people but to protect the blood supply.

  • [-]
  • ThePoliteCanadian
  • 4 Points
  • 00:33:33, 14 January

Look, this isn't about same-sex rights as much as it is about HIV prevention.

  • [-]
  • PoliteCanadian
  • 4 Points
  • 01:52:19, 14 January

This is going to get confusing.

  • [-]
  • tendencytoremember
  • 4 Points
  • 21:29:47, 13 January

in all fairness, they don't let you donate if you've been in the uk anytime in the last twenty years if there was a mad cow outbreak. there are a ton of rules. they are minimizing risk among risky groups.

the screening measures are not 100% so it is necessary for those who are part of an at-risk group. it isn't just gay men. i donate a lot and I always have to go through a 70 point checklist. like handling monkey fluids in africa or being in south america for more than three months

  • [-]
  • enemy_anemone
  • -5 Points
  • 21:37:56, 13 January

And that's all perfectly fine for them to go through the checklist and disqualify people for perfectly valid reasons. Homosexual activity is not a valid reason.

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • -2 Points
  • 03:06:56, 14 January

It saddens me to see that even in a place like Canada, where I have been told that my fellow countrymen and women accept me even though I'm gay, there are still people who would downvote a comment like yours.

I know that we are far beyond almost every other place on the planet in terms of LGBT civil rights, but the unfortunate truth is as a gay Canadian, I am still discriminated against. Shame.

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • -2 Points
  • 03:05:11, 14 January

I am not a member of a risky group, yet I am still not allowed to donate.

  • [-]
  • Calypsee
  • 1 Points
  • 03:41:28, 14 January

Me too, sort of. The risk would be for my own well-being as I don't weigh enough.

Why can't you donate?

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • -1 Points
  • 05:01:56, 14 January

Because I'm a sexually active gay male.

  • [-]
  • vicviper
  • 1 Points
  • 07:23:28, 14 January

But that is a risky group. The rate of HIV/STI is higher in homosexual males than the rest of the population. They are the largest demographic of infected people.

  • [-]
  • scoooot
  • 1 Points
  • 07:33:43, 14 January

I am a sexually active gay HIV negative male. That group has absolutely no risk of infecting the blood supply.

The homophobic bias is in selecting one group over the other as the proper way to frame the issue.

The problem is that we are asking "Should gay people be allowed to donate blood" and not "how do we design a screening process which is as effective as possible?" Do you understand what I'm saying?

Do you get why I am questioning why people are talking about the former and not the later? Do you get why I am questioning why no one seems to be questioning it?

  • [-]
  • bungiecord13
  • 2 Points
  • 03:41:57, 14 January

Health Canada didn't come up with these guidelines because they don't like gay people. Their job is to make sure donated blood is as safe as possible given any available information, not make sure people aren't offended. Unfortunately statistics point to male can male sexual contact being a leading cause in HIV transmission as has been pointed out by sources provided by other comments in this thread.