Not eligible to donate.
May 20, 2004 11:56 AM   Subscribe

FDA bans sexually active gay men from donating sperm and tissues
posted by magullo (33 comments total)

 
sperm and tissues

yeah, they should use a little jar or something.

seriously tho, folks, this seems sensible. needle users are also banned and "reproductive cells from a sexual partner, as is common with in vitro fertilization" is excepted ... so this isn't some bush anti-gay marriage thing.
posted by danOstuporStar at 12:11 PM on May 20, 2004


Unless I'm mistaken, this is already the case for donating blood, etc. What's more it applies to those who meet any of a number of conditions - IV drug users, etc.

One could argue that in an era when donors are becoming increasingly rare, this sort of discrimination is unnecessary and pointlessly divisive. One could also argue that in an era marked an incredible litigiousness, hospitals and physicians have no other choice.

Whatever the case, I don't think this constitutes an anti-gay (note: lesbians aren't mentioned) measure on the part of the FDA.

Of course, that doesn't meant that some parties won't interpret it that way.
posted by aladfar at 12:12 PM on May 20, 2004


As a gay man in a committed relationship, yeah, I'm still kind of ticked off that I can't donate blood just because of my sexual preference. I am a willing donor, but I'm not allowed to donate. So my outrage at this is fairly muted. The article mentions in passing that reproductive cells from a sexual partner are excluded, but I wonder how that will translate to surrogates if I suddenly decide I want to have a kid without, um, doing the deed, if you will.
posted by FreezBoy at 12:25 PM on May 20, 2004


People who donate sperm, eggs and other commonly transplanted tissues will have to be screened for infectious diseases like blood donors are, under long-awaited federal rules announced Thursday.

So screen them. I hardly see why this means any homosexual male should be excluded from donating, unless there "screening" process consists of asking someone if they're gay and/or use needles. If that's the case, it's pointless anyway. If it's not, then it's pointless to discriminate against homosexual males.
posted by The God Complex at 12:57 PM on May 20, 2004


I know people that donate blood anyway and lie...they're supposed to be testing every drop of blood donated, so this exclusion is stupid. And how many IV Drug users are honest when donating?

As for sperm and eggs, HIV doesn't live when frozen, as far as i know. How could it possibly be a risk? As for tissues and organs, they're supposed to be thoroughly tested as well.
posted by amberglow at 1:04 PM on May 20, 2004


also, the article mentions bacteria-laden cartilage. How is that related to gay men? Seems more like dirty hospital procedures to me.
posted by amberglow at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2004


Hmmm...

reaction 1: well...that brings it into line with blood donations, that's no big deal, right?

reaction 2: Wait...don't they have tests for HIV, and doesn't the virus die in extreme temperatures?

reaction 3: Shouldn't everything be tested and sterilized before it's put into another person, anyway? (I really don't know...I've no idea how transplants work.)

And Freezboy raises an interesting question...how would this impact gay men who want to hire a surrogate?
posted by dejah420 at 1:12 PM on May 20, 2004


this seems sensible

Your're joking, right? You aren't seriously suggesting that straight people don't carry every disease gay men carry.
posted by archimago at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2004


To me, the ban on blood donation smacks of "I don't want black blood in my body" just replacing Black with gay man. That, and I am sure that gay men's sperm are as potent as straight men's sperm. All sperm being equal, and all.
posted by plemeljr at 1:32 PM on May 20, 2004


archimago, sensible as in dejah420's reaction 1. and no, i'm not suggesting any such thing. how is there even a hint of that sentiment in my comment? and yes, i am joking...the primary reason i commented at all was b/c i thought the "sperm and tissue" thing was funny.
posted by danOstuporStar at 1:48 PM on May 20, 2004


i've heard of numeruos occasions of people getting hiv from donated blood, so i wouldn't think everything gets tested like it should
posted by bob sarabia at 1:52 PM on May 20, 2004


What I don't understand is if this is an HIV issue, why did it take 20 years to pass the rule?
posted by Nelson at 2:00 PM on May 20, 2004


I know people that donate blood anyway and lie...they're supposed to be testing every drop of blood donated

[This is bad.]

so this exclusion is stupid. And how many IV Drug users are honest when donating?

[This is bad] x 2 != [This is good]

No test is perfect. Two tests -- screening people from a higher risk population, and screening the blood itself -- lower the risk of transfusing infected blood.

You aren't seriously suggesting that straight people don't carry every disease gay men carry.

Everybody is asked screening questions about behavior that puts them in a higher risk population as well. These questions are (presumably) based on correlation between populations and risks for certain contagions. If one can argue that these correlations aren't true -- that sexually active gay males (and those who have sex with them) are not at a higher risk for HIV than those who do not have sex with gay males -- then one could present a case for bigotry here.

Finally, we ban people who went to Europe at the wrong time from donating, and this was way before the "Freedom Fries" crap...
posted by weston at 2:06 PM on May 20, 2004


doesn't the virus die in extreme temperatures?

Not in cold.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:44 PM on May 20, 2004


Do they exclude straight people who have anal sex?
posted by Hildegarde at 2:58 PM on May 20, 2004


weston, they've been saying the blood supply is safe, and thoroughly tested. If an hiv- gay man donates, they'd be testing it anyway, as they do when an hiv+ straight person donates, or a haitian, or an iv drug user, or you. (and closeted people still donate whether they're positive or not anyway, also)

Given our chronic shortages of blood, they should take everyone's and test it all, and dump what they can't use, I think. They're cutting millions of men out of the supply, including my universal donor O+ hiv-negative blood.

and on preview, no, Hildegarde, they don't...nor do they ask everyone if they've had unprotected sex; just men who have sex with men.
posted by amberglow at 3:00 PM on May 20, 2004


Your're joking, right? You aren't seriously suggesting that straight people don't carry every disease gay men carry.

Honestly, didn't this gay-plague meme die in the 1900's? Are they seriously suggesting that HIV and AIDS only attack gay men? And if so, who do we fire first?
posted by velacroix at 3:01 PM on May 20, 2004


In addition to screening, tissue banks must test donors and/or the donated tissue for diseases that include HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease.

Should people who eat beef be excluded as well?
posted by boredomjockey at 3:57 PM on May 20, 2004


no they're not suggesting it only attacks gay men. what they would have done is sat down with a calculator and some data on what tests are most likely to rule out certain diseases, and what tests are most expensive, and done a cost-benefit calculation to com up with what they have. if that is the case - and i don't see why not - then you can infer from it that: asking people about sexual preference is cheap (seems sensible); that sufficient people ask correctly, and the risk of aids or whatever they're screenig for is higher in whatever group they're blocking (men who have sex with other men, iirc) (again, seems sensible).

it doesn't mean that only gays get aids - it does mean that if you are gay you are more likely to be infected than if you are not. which makes it a useful test.

sorry, but that's statistics.

on preview - here in chile, i am excluded from giving blood in some places because i ate beef in the uk. so yes, for some balance fo cost and risk, that makes sense too.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:59 PM on May 20, 2004


Should people who eat beef be excluded as well

hmm too easy. i'm not touching that one
posted by bob sarabia at 4:00 PM on May 20, 2004


Honestly, didn't this gay-plague meme die in the 1900's? Are they seriously suggesting that HIV and AIDS only attack gay men?

There's a very big difference between saying "God hates fags and sends AIDS as a plague to curse them" and "Gay men as a population are at a greater risk for AIDS due to certain endemic behaviors."

everyone if they've had unprotected sex; just men who have sex with men.

They do ask some of these questions, most of them designed to check if there's someone in an unprotected path through a network of sexual partners to a gay male (since 1977, IIRC). They don't put it as generally/obtusely as I do, but that's what the questions amount to.

If nothing else, they probably should ask some more heterosexual risk-behavior related questions that could be significant.

weston, they've been saying the blood supply is safe, and thoroughly tested. If an hiv- gay man donates, they'd be testing it anyway, as they do when an hiv+ straight person donates, or a haitian, or an iv drug user, or you.

This isn't the point, though -- testing is good, but testing can never eliminate risk, and combining the blood testing with risk-population screening can reduce overall risks of contagion by orders of magnitude over either method alone. I can see the argument that slightly riskier blood is better than no blood, but it also seems clear to me that slightly less risky blood is a good thing.

But hey, even if we haven't persuaded each other here, I'm O+ too, and you've reminded me to get into the clinic for a first time in a while. :)
posted by weston at 4:16 PM on May 20, 2004


you have to give double then, weston, because i'm not allowed to.
posted by amberglow at 4:18 PM on May 20, 2004


"Gay men as a population are at a greater risk for AIDS due to certain endemic behaviors."
Can someone get me out of this alternative universe where is is still 1970 and back to my own century please?
posted by dg at 5:04 PM on May 20, 2004


dg -- are you saying this is not true?
posted by namespan at 5:35 PM on May 20, 2004


you have to give double then, weston, because i'm not allowed to.

Well, technically wouldn't I only have to give x% more, where x is the percentage of the O+ population that would be gay? :)

(+y% for European Beef Eaters, +z% for risk-lovin' heteros, +etc... maybe it would be double. As long as you don't hook me up to a machine for my electricity, I guess I'm OK...)
posted by weston at 5:51 PM on May 20, 2004


namespan, no I am not refuting the statistics, just gobsmacked that society still has the attitude that only gay men should be targeted in this way. It would be equally valid to exclude anyone who is sexually promiscuous, particularly if that promiscuity includes unprotected sex. The assumption that gay men are (a) by definition sexually promiscuous and (b) less likely to use suitable protection than heterosexual men is ridiculous. To be honest, I do not know if it is true (as opposed to statistically indicated) if gay men are more likely to be carrying HIV than heterosexual men, but it seems like an unfair generalisation to me. You are welcome to prove me wrong using unbiased statistical evidence, however.
posted by dg at 6:06 PM on May 20, 2004


African Americans are disproportianately being affected by HIV/AIDs. So do we say "no blacks" for blood donations? Nope. Why? Well, we can't exclude that minority group, but it's ok to exclude those thilly queers, everyone hates them anyways. And if they loved America, they'd be straight and reproducing so they could donate blood.
posted by benjh at 6:35 PM on May 20, 2004


It sounds nice, and it can be explained away by saying it's just a public health thing with no ill-will to gays, but it's not really. The donation guidelines are set by the FDA, which is political. Groups that collect, like red cross etc must abide by these rules regardless of how they actually feel, or their internal scientific guidance.

The prohibition against gays donating occurred before blood was routinely screened for HIV, now all blood is screened, yet the prohibition remains.

There are always critical shortages, but there aren't really enough gay people to make the actual doctors and scientists in charge press the matter, and politically it's difficult.
posted by rhyax at 10:19 PM on May 20, 2004


andrew cooke, I'm in the same mad cow boat. Ate it even before all the scare was on, so I didn't have much opportunity to choose then (ate it after too, because I'm just as likely to die on the flight there and back as compared to dying from mad cow [read it and weep, Alberta cattle ranchers]).

Some facts: Worldwide, 1 in 1 million die of CJD yearly. As a canadian, I have about a 7 in 10 million chance of contracting the disease. In the UK, where, arguably, most of the population was exposed to "infected" beef, incidence rates average to 160 per Billion. (Work it out yourself: 139 deaths in 13 years in 60,000,000 population). The higher rates in the US and Canada are likely due to including "probable" cases in their data.

Now, if blood banks are willing to ban my blood due to figures like those, is there, or is there not, a solid argument that shows less than 160 per billion difference death rate of AIDS in gay men compared to straight men?

If not, I'm angry. If so, tough nuggies.
posted by shepd at 10:55 PM on May 20, 2004


Also something to keep in mind, there is no even remotely cost-effective test for CJD contaminated blood products, and they are not routinely tested, while there are proven tests for HIV.
posted by rhyax at 12:33 AM on May 21, 2004


African Americans are disproportianately being affected by HIV/AIDs. So do we say "no blacks" for blood donations? Nope. Why? Well, we can't exclude that minority group, but it's ok to exclude those thilly queers, everyone hates them anyways.

Indeed. I did not know that in America gays were not eligible to donate ... anything. Such a blamket measure goes against the constitutions of both places which I am most familiar with: Spain and the Netherlands.
posted by magullo at 3:47 AM on May 21, 2004


African Americans are disproportianately being affected by HIV/AIDs. So do we say "no blacks" for blood donations? Nope. Why? Well, we can't exclude that minority group, but it's ok to exclude those thilly queers, everyone hates them anyways.

excuse me while i step aside to avoid the rush to victimhood, but if i were you, and if that's true, and is significant enough to be included, but isn't for political reasons (a lot of buts that you don't provide answers to), then i'd be pushing for excluding them too.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:33 AM on May 21, 2004


excuse me while i step aside to avoid the rush to victimhood, but if i were you, and if that's true, and is significant enough to be included, but isn't for political reasons (a lot of buts that you don't provide answers to), then i'd be pushing for excluding them too.

Then what? We find out Hispanics have HIV 4% more often than whites and exclude them, as well? Eventually we could just pare it down to the very best ethnic groups and go with them. Of course, even if it was just, say, whites and asians who were donating, we'd eventually have to eliminate everyone who makes under $50,000 a year, because of their higher risk behaviour as poor people.

The whole argument of using statistical probability to reduce costs--when the real cost is that there's already a shortage in blood supply--just seems like a terrible idea, at least if it's employed using the current method. By all means, do it in a way that doesn't target minorities; if costs need to be cut, then they should do what they've been doing for years and ask people about their lifestyle--how promiscuous they are, whether or not they've used needles, etc. But just saying that gay men are more likely to have HIV is well beyond that.
posted by The God Complex at 10:40 AM on May 21, 2004


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