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FDA: No gay swimmers in our banks.
May 5, 2005 10:34 PM   Subscribe

FDA to ban sperm donations from homosexuals. Claims the rate of HIV among gay men is statistically high enough to warrant the exclusion. Gay community suggests discrimination. See also: Gay blood ban (in effect since 1985).
posted by Civil_Disobedient (204 comments total)

 
"Homosexuality isn't genetic, it's a choice! But, uh, we don't want your sperm."
posted by nmiell at 10:45 PM on May 5, 2005


It is a very tragic thing when HIV is spread through either sperm or blood donations.
posted by reflection at 10:53 PM on May 5, 2005


Well, looking at the numbers there, I think it's just a sort of conservative (pun not intended) decision on the FDA's part.

Of course, can't they just... check it?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:53 PM on May 5, 2005


George wants to play both sides of the bigotry fence. Persecute for "choice" and discriminate for genetics.
posted by fleener at 10:55 PM on May 5, 2005


Well, the Red Cross hereabouts excludes blood on a number of supposedly significant risk factors including tatoos (you'll never give blood again), intravenous drug use, and multiple partners (ie: more than 1) in a year.

It's all about the numbers. Let's remember the difference between discrimination and unjust discrimination.

Is there a failure rate of HIV tests, or is it prohibitively expensive to test all samples?

Heh. On preview, I wonder if nmiell is on to something. I would be interested in what the Red Cross take on this is. When I check their donor guildelines I don't see anything about same-sex activity, though I definitely remember seeing it on donor forms in the past. Anyone know if they've done away with that? The current donor caution list appears to be verifiable infections for the most part, rather than risk factors for infections -- though I do see "piercing", "tatoo", and "intravenous drug use" as well as "dental procedures".
posted by dreamsign at 10:59 PM on May 5, 2005


meanwhile...
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:04 PM on May 5, 2005


Is there a failure rate of HIV tests, or is it prohibitively expensive to test all samples?

Both.
posted by kindall at 11:21 PM on May 5, 2005


Is there some big joy or reward for donating blood and/or sperm?
posted by Witty at 11:28 PM on May 5, 2005


Dreamsign, it's on the Red Cross blood donor list under "HIV, AIDS":

"Those who are at increased risk for becoming infected with HIV are not eligible to donate blood. You are at increased risk if you.....are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977"
posted by bcwinters at 11:31 PM on May 5, 2005


Ah, bingo, and that's exactly the language I remember, too.

Really, they seem to be fairly consistent across risk groups, so I'm not sure it's appropriate to play the discrimination card, here.
posted by dreamsign at 11:35 PM on May 5, 2005


Maybe it's that acting gay is genetic, but wanting to have cream in your cake is where the choosing is? E.g. "metrosexuals" vs. you'd-never-know-they-were-gay gay guys. I don't know, I'm not trying to sound authoritative or anything.

Kind of interesting, I think. Maybe it's not just genetic or choice, but both?
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 11:39 PM on May 5, 2005


I, as a straight man, can have unprotected sex with a prostitute with no condom and then, about a year later, give all the blood I want. You, as a gay man, can be in a monogamous relationship for ten years and never be allowed to give ever.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:44 PM on May 5, 2005


I'm not going to advocate lying, but if you're so convinced that your sperm is safe then I don't think they're going to perform a background check on you to find out if you've been taking a scenic tour of the Hershey Highway or not.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 11:46 PM on May 5, 2005


After the collosal Hep C fuckup, they sure as hell better be discriminating against the high-risk groups. Sheesh.

It is likely to affect some lesbian couples who want a child and prefer to use a gay man’s sperm for artificial insemination.

Whu? What an odd idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:47 PM on May 5, 2005


Hey, that article's from a year ago. Does anyone know the current status of this rule?
posted by dougb at 11:47 PM on May 5, 2005


Clearly the reason is because it's too expensive for them to have an adequate selection of both heterosexual and homosexual pornography in those little wanking rooms.
posted by nightchrome at 11:56 PM on May 5, 2005


The question is whether or not they'll let you donate sperm or blood if you can produce and verify a certified copy of your clean bill of health.

Anyone who would be malicious enough to try to intentionally contaminate or infect people through donation services is going to lie on their forms anyway. So why not allow eager doners (who's HIV or STD status may be suspect) to show evidence that their infection status is negative?

Remember, this isn't just about charitably donating your blood at a Red Cross drive. This extends to blood and sperm banks where you can get cash in exchange. Not that fluid donation is a particularly lucrative source of income but this does deny a segment of the population from an avenue of making (small) money.

(That's a little bit of a reach, I know. I'm just pointing it out.)

But anyway,
Is this the same as saying, "Well, african-americans have a statistically higher probability of having sickle-cell anemia so we won't let them donate blood anymore?"

At any rate, I don't think bans like this should be enforced unless they can come up with a study that shows that gay men consistently and unwittingly contaminate supplies of blood or sperm, thereby infecting the recipients. If they can't furnish such a study, then this is just knee-jerk, paranoid, bigotry.
posted by Jon-o at 12:09 AM on May 6, 2005


Not being able to donate sperm won't kill anyone, even though this is essentially a Bush-sponsored eugenics program. (Seig Heil, George!)

But not being able to donate blood does kill people.

After some serious thought I stopped giving my blood to the RC after 1998 and haven't done it since, even though I hadn't been sexually active with men back then.

I suggest others who think this is discrimination boycott them as well. When enough people die from lack of blood, maybe enough focus will go on the Red Cross that it'll think twice about its fundamentalist Christian attitude problem.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:21 AM on May 6, 2005


AlexReynolds, I don't think that punishing people who desperately need blood is the way to "show" the Red Cross.

Essentially a Bush-sponsored eugenics program? Man, look at the stats, the FDA has stringent standards and they don't want to pull from a population with high risk. There should certainly be a caveat that allows for donation with a notarized or certified or whatever bill of clean health, but other than that I think people are overreacting to this.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:36 AM on May 6, 2005


Yea... that's the attitude Alex.
posted by Witty at 12:40 AM on May 6, 2005


I don't think that punishing people who desperately need blood is the way to "show" the Red Cross.

It's not about punishing people but highlighting the fact that people — like myself — who are in a committed relationship are no higher risk than straights in committed relationships.

If the RC doesn't want my "impure" blood, I feel bad for people who need blood, but let the Red Cross feel some heat (for once) for their discriminatory behavior.

the FDA has stringent standards and they don't want to pull from a population with high risk...

...of being gay. This is a policy of eugenics codified and sanitized for your protection, nothing more. It's not the first time in American history this has been done, and it won't be the last.

Seig Heil, George!
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:43 AM on May 6, 2005


Is there some big joy or reward for donating blood and/or sperm?
posted by Witty at 2:28 AM EST on May 6 [!]

Yea... that's the attitude Alex.
posted by Witty at 3:40 AM EST on May 6 [!]


Yep, that's the "attitude", Witty.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:53 AM on May 6, 2005


Joey Michaels: "I, as a straight man, can have unprotected sex with a prostitute withno condom and then, about a year later, give all the blood I want. You,as a gay man, can be in a monogamous relationship for ten years andnever be allowed to give ever."

I dunno about the US but in South Africa they specifically ask you this question before you give blood (and they frame at as 'even once'). If you reply in the positive then I assume they will either not allow you to donate or mark your donation for extra testing.
posted by PenDevil at 12:57 AM on May 6, 2005


Uh... the question being whether you have ever been paid for sex.
posted by PenDevil at 12:59 AM on May 6, 2005


or paid for sex.
posted by PenDevil at 1:02 AM on May 6, 2005


PenDevil, I was surprised by Joey Michaels's statement, too, but I checked the Red Cross guidelines linked above:
Those who are at increased risk for becoming infected with HIV are not eligible to donate blood. You are at increased risk if you:
  • have ever taken money, drugs or other payment for sex since 1977

  • Wait for 12 months after close contact with someone who is at an increased risk for HIV infection. This occurs when paying to have sex, as a result of rape, or when having sex with an IV drug user.
    So to clarify, paying for a prostitute is A-ok, but actually being a prostitute will get you banned for life.
    posted by stopgap at 1:27 AM on May 6, 2005


    I feel bad for people who need blood, but let the Red Cross feel some heat (for once) for their discriminatory behavior.

    This is not a an abstract point worth killing innocent people for. There are few of those, and this is not one. (Maybe we should instead direct our anger at the braindead barebackers who keep the HIV stats where they are.)
    posted by Tlogmer at 1:30 AM on May 6, 2005


    eugenics

    Gay people survived thousands of years of brutal repression and the continuing lack of a reproductive drive. I don't think sperm-donation bans will make an impact.
    posted by Tlogmer at 1:33 AM on May 6, 2005


    (Maybe we should instead direct our anger at the braindead barebackers who keep the HIV stats where they are.)

    Or perhaps binary reasoning doesn't apply, as I can direct my anger into appropriate solutions for both.
    posted by AlexReynolds at 1:34 AM on May 6, 2005


    Gay people survived thousands of years of brutal repression and the continuing lack of a reproductive drive. I don't think sperm-donation bans will make an impact.

    Well, it's gays today, and it'll be someone else tomorrow, or yesterday. "I watched the 11 o'clock news and it said 'ethnics' are increasing in numbers in the country. Seems lots of blacks are poor or in prison; maybe we should keep their socially irresponsible sperm out. Or maybe we can implant contraceptive pellets underneath their skin, take care of the 'problem' right from the start."
    posted by AlexReynolds at 1:43 AM on May 6, 2005


    Okay, you're right about the binary reasoning. And yes, bigotry needs to be fought, but there are ways to fight it that don't kill people; boycotting the red cross kills people.
    posted by Tlogmer at 1:51 AM on May 6, 2005


    This isn't about being incarceration being transmitted through fluid donation, it's about AIDS transmission from fluid donation. Assume the statistics are correct, and there are enough gay men with AIDS to make testing their blood/sperm non-cost-effective. In place of "have you had gay male sex after 1977", what question would you suggest to make blood-donation cost-effective and therefore worthwhile?
    posted by 23skidoo at 2:14 AM on May 6, 2005


    It's not about punishing people but highlighting the fact that people — like myself — who are in a committed relationship are no higher risk than straights in committed relationships.

    Untrue. The risk of HIV transmission is much, much higher through anal sex than it is through the vaginal variety, and gay men practice anal sex at a much higher rate than heterosexuals do; furthermore, there are many other ways for one partner to catch HIV than through cheating, so just because you're in a "committed relationship" doesn't mean that you aren't at risk of getting infected while doing the horizontal boogie. Let's not even touch upon the reality that for a lot of people, the definition of "committed" also seems to include the one or two flings every few years ...

    Well, it's gays today, and it'll be someone else tomorrow, or yesterday.

    Oh, bullshit. I'm black, and I don't see how you can leap from the FDA screening a high risk group from sperm donation to some fantasy out of an American Nazi Party pamphlet; this kind of rhetoric only makes you look pathetic and deranged. The reality of the matter is that several other high risk groups also face barriers in donating bodily fluids, e.g. anyone who's lived in a country like Britain where Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy has been an issue, and yet you don't see them going around making hysterical allusions to racial eugenics. To suggest that healthcare practitioners ignore statistical realities and needlessly put others at risk just so you can feel good about yourself is to deify narcissism.
    posted by Goedel at 2:19 AM on May 6, 2005


    Alex, you forgot to say "Seig Heil, George!" in your last two comments.
    posted by Stauf at 2:26 AM on May 6, 2005


    Let's not even touch upon the reality that for a lot of people, the definition of "committed" also seems to include the one or two flings every few years ...

    Which is more likely the case with straight people, by sheer numbers.

    To suggest that healthcare practitioners ignore statistical realities and needlessly put others at risk just so you can feel good about yourself is to deify narcissism.

    To suggest narcissism when a double standard is being perpetrated is either pretty witty stuff or missing the point entirely.

    Oh, and "Seig Heil, Dubya!"
    posted by AlexReynolds at 2:34 AM on May 6, 2005


    Excuse my being not being an hematologist : is it true that NOT all blood bags are tested before being inserted into circulation ?

    I can't help not thinking this is would be legalized criminal negligence.
    posted by elpapacito at 2:39 AM on May 6, 2005


    I'm fully in support of gay marriage and extending homosexuals the same rights as all other citizens. But refusing bodily fluid donations isn't discrimination.

    Giving blood isn't about the donor, people, it's about the recipient.

    We should, as a society, take whatever steps can reasonably protect the recipient of donated blood/sperm. Preventing gays from donating decreases the risk of infection with a number of rather nasty diseases. That is simple statistical fact. If/when the gay population changes behavior in such a way that their fluids are no riskier than anyone else's, the ban should be lifted.

    Putting recipients in danger so that donors can feel all warm and fuzzy is among the stupider ideas I've ever read. It is ignoring medical reality to support an ideology, which is exactly what liberals despise about a great deal of conservative thinking.

    Shame on any of you who argued against this ban.
    posted by Malor at 3:12 AM on May 6, 2005


    elpapacito: "Excuse my being not being an hematologist : is it true that NOT allblood bags are tested before being inserted into circulation ?"

    I think they are but there are various differing tests that can be done each with an associated level of confidence in their results. I think the more thorough tests are more expensive and probably take longer which is why they are not always carried out and why people who are in higher risk (from say going to a Malaria infested region) might be marked for further testing to double check.
    posted by PenDevil at 3:26 AM on May 6, 2005


    I should add also that the South African Blood Transfusion service got into major trouble with government when it was found they were racially profiling blood donations and excluding a large number of black donors because of the higher HIV levels in black South Africans as opposed to other racial groups.

    They have since stopped that.
    posted by PenDevil at 3:31 AM on May 6, 2005


    It is just one more little attack against gays from the anti-gay administration.
    posted by caddis at 4:00 AM on May 6, 2005


    Ok, I'm seething with rage a tish. We're obviously opening ourselves to big problems down the road if we're not going to test blood and sperm before they enter circulation. I mean, isn't that just, i dunno... LOGIC? It's a common sense thing which I'd naievely thought was already being done. It's like passing around a bottle of Courvoisier among 20 friends at a party: if we lip it enough, someone's gonna catch a cold and someone's gonna get Herpes. If we screen for blood borne pathogens, we solve the problem and every blessed soul can open their veins and other openins for any altruisitic reason they want.
    I'm damn happy I was able to donate sperm to a lesbian couble in a low-tech non-lab way which has given them a beautiful daughter and made them the family they always wanted to be. I know many gay men like me who've donated sperm for the simple joy of bringing life into the world. When I realized I'd taken the purple pill, the only real sense of loss I felt was that I wasn't ever going to be able to raise a family in the traditional sense... helping my friends have a child erased that loss, and how dare anyone take that sensation away from other men wanting to give deserving couples a family?

    *watches Joan Crawford movies all day*
    posted by moonbird at 4:41 AM on May 6, 2005


    Hey, that article's from a year ago. Does anyone know the current status of this rule?

    Sorry, I reversed my two "news" links--the BBC one should have been the "Gay activists" link, while the MSNBC link is from yesterday. I included the CDC numbers because I wanted to keep things balanced, because frankly the numbers do suggest a significant percentage. But then, African Americans have a larger percentage than whites; of course, their "minority" is larger than the homosexual "minority," thus discriminating against them would be wrong.

    Giving blood isn't about the donor, people, it's about the recipient.

    Isn't any fluid going into another human body tested beforehand? You don't have to test all incoming donations (whether they be blood, sperm or otherwise), but once you've got a recipient, shouldn't they be testing the sample they're going to be inserting into another person?
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:44 AM on May 6, 2005


    There is certainly a problem with poor lifestyle choices within the homosexual community. Maybe now is a good time to talk about it, instead of feigning outrage.
    posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 5:06 AM on May 6, 2005


    There is certainly a problem with poor lifestyle choices within the [insert scapegoats for societal ills here] community. Maybe now is a good time to talk about it, instead of feigning outrage.

    Oh no you didn't! Oh, and the outrage, not feigned.
    posted by moonbird at 5:10 AM on May 6, 2005


    pendevil: it's somehow reassuring to -think- that mandatory blood testing on each bag is done. Far less reassuring to learn thay high confidence-level test are -probably- not routinely done because of their cost.

    Which makes me wonder: have anybody told the patient he's literally in a lottery system ? Could he pick the chances by, for instance, paying for "very tested" blood instead of "more-or-less tested" blood ? ù

    In other words, I don't want to get HIV because my goddamed insurance and its minions gotta save a dozen bucks on a bloody blood bag to buy themselves a bloody red Ferrari.
    posted by elpapacito at 5:46 AM on May 6, 2005


    On the prostitute issue, I'm pretty sure that the questions I've answered included have you ever "taken money or drugs for sex" and "given money or drugs for sex". Primarily I remember because it's in the long chunk of questions that remind me of what a boring life I must lead.

    Malor: "Giving blood isn't about the donor, people, it's about the recipient... Shame on any of you who argued against this ban."

    Malor, there are chronic blood shortages. Many of the persons arguing against the ban are thinking of the recipents - the ones who may have to wait for a transfusion because willing disease-free donors were turned away. The debate here is whether the belief that allowing gays to donate will contaminate the supply is really based on solid statistical analysis or on the prejudice that says "all gays are diseased".

    Another problem frequent donors run into is that if you run a test often enough, you will eventually get a false positive. If you get a false positive, even if it is later proved to have been false, you're banned for life. Thus, the Red Cross is eliminating their regular donors...
    posted by Karmakaze at 6:32 AM on May 6, 2005


    elpapacito: Yeah, in that article I linked to the head of the SA blood transfusion service basically admitted that according to their model they expect there to be four HIV infections via transfusion (although on average only two are reported to them).

    Thing is almost all medical procedures are still crap shoots, and your odds of dying in a situation where you might need a blood transfusion, such as an operation, are much much higher than the actual transfusion itself.
    posted by PenDevil at 6:51 AM on May 6, 2005


    With me, the last time I tried to donate blood they asked me if I had had anal sex in the last year, but mentioned nothing about the gender of my partner. I had, it was with a woman, and they told me that I couldn't donate (I had also visited Thailand, so I was double out).
    I think people are missing the point with the "don't they test all of them?" questions. Yes, they test all of them. But if you don't donate, then they don't have to run the expensive tests on a bag that's more likely to come back negative. They don't have to run any tests, because the bag of blood doesn't exist. Cost:benefit.
    posted by klangklangston at 6:56 AM on May 6, 2005



    There is certainly a problem with poor lifestyle choices within the homosexual community.


    As soon as we talk about the poor lifestyle choices within the heterosexual community.

    Piss off, you troll -- you know nothing about what you are saying.

    But as far as blood and sperm donations go: if the blood bank is not testing each donation completely for disease, I look forward to the day when they get sued.
    posted by hummus at 7:30 AM on May 6, 2005


    Is there some big joy or reward for donating blood and/or sperm?

    I don'y know about blood, but in the case of donating sperm, the process is it's own reward.
    posted by jonmc at 7:30 AM on May 6, 2005


    My understanding was that anal sex transmits HIV far more than vaginal sex. Thus the "poor lifestyle choices" in the homosexual community tend to lead to more AIDS than the "poor lifestyle choices" in the heterosexual community. (Yes, I am aware some heterosexuals also have anal sex, but certainly not all of them do)
    posted by beth at 7:34 AM on May 6, 2005


    Yea... that's the attitude Alex.

    Witty, the first time that you have some that's either intelligent or witty to contribute, please make sure to mark it with bold tags. I'd hate to miss it.
    posted by jperkins at 7:39 AM on May 6, 2005


    hummus: "But as far as blood and sperm donations go: if the blood bank is nottesting each donation completely for disease, I look forward to the daywhen they get sued."

    I'm sure they would like to. But refrigerated blood is usually kept for 42 days (frozen blood for a year but I'm not sure how much blood gets frozen and how much gets refrigerated) and a proper HIV test should take place after 3 months to make sure the initial 'window period' when HIV is hard to detect has passed.
    posted by PenDevil at 8:39 AM on May 6, 2005


    As soon as we talk about the poor lifestyle choices within the heterosexual community.

    Piss off, you troll -- you know nothing about what you are saying.


    Exactly my point.
    posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 8:41 AM on May 6, 2005


    Policy of bigotry. disgusting. and Alex is right.

    This is another decision not based on science or medicine but on hate and exclusion. There are more and more of these decisions being made all over lately, and it is wrong.

    All blood is tested, and ALL sperm should be tested, no matter who it's from.

    Heteros get HIV too.

    Everyone should read this, and see where all these decisions are leading, and what they do in terms of our equality and equal humanity.
    posted by amberglow at 8:48 AM on May 6, 2005


    Heteros get HIV too.

    But HIV is not a hetero epidemic. It is a homosexual epidemic, driven by well known unsafe partying. But it is a problem that affects everyone.

    I don't mean to step on any toes, but much like people remaining politely silent on issues such as people who believe in magic Christians getting a free pass, I am more and more beginning to believe we as a society should call out the cracks, and work together to repair them.

    Distancing ourselves from problems will never solve them. Calling them out, however painful, will at least bring attention to the issues that are in greatest need of amelioration.
    posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 9:11 AM on May 6, 2005


    Further, some white women murder. Some asian males lead a life of crime. But these are not strong currents, these are instances where statistically, people of other demographic backgrounds have a much higher grouping. It is no crime to call them out, although it does make a lot of people mad.
    posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 9:13 AM on May 6, 2005


    Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by any would-be donor, gay or straight.

    Good science would be to eliminate ALL possible risks to protect all recipients, not just the predominant risk--it's basic. Heterosexuals who practice unsafe sex carry stds too, but are not being denied.

    Shakespeare's Sister brings up a good point on the fear and bigotry that drove this decision: ...For all the lip service that the Dominionists give to their alleged belief that homosexuality is a choice, somewhere deep down they know it is not a choice, not for everyone. And that’s what’s driving this policy—an attempt to keep homosexuality out of the gene pool as much as possible. They don’t want gays having kids, even if it’s by way of sperm donation.

    I don’t care if they argue HIV from now to eternity; this is about quarantining gays and trying to keep them out of the general population. It’s complete bullshit, and hiding behind some crapass argument about HIV is truly pathetic, especially considering that for a very, very long time anyone of any sexual orientation has been playing roulette with his or her life if they go around having unprotected, anonymous sex. It hasn’t been called the Gay Cancer since Reagan was around (and doing his best to ignore it), and that’s because we’re all at risk. Surely the FDA is well aware of the statistics on the risks among all people, which makes this obvious as the red herring that it is. ...

    posted by amberglow at 9:19 AM on May 6, 2005


    Distancing ourselves from problems will never solve them. Calling them out, however painful, will at least bring attention to the issues that are in greatest need of amelioration.
    HIV and other STDs are a problem for ALL sexually-active people, not just us. Refusing to accept that FACT is foolish. This new policy does nothing about that fact, but further stigmatizes one group--my group. (This also plays into the fight against the HPV vaccine going on now too, that is preventing women's health due to the fear of sexual activity)

    There's an awful lot of that going around lately, if you want to bring attention to things that need amelioration, buddy.
    posted by amberglow at 9:22 AM on May 6, 2005


    And what do you know--reputable sperm banks places ALREADY screen for disease: ...Other sperm banks, which had also begun to tune into client desires, followed his lead. This consumer revolution was accelerated by the advent of AIDS in the early '80s. AIDS killed the market for fresh semen, as women demanded sperm from HIV-free men. Sperm banks began screening donors for HIV, freezing their sperm for six months, screening the donors again, and only then using the samples.

    Cryobanks became ever more sensitive to consumer anxiety about health and donor achievement. Today the California Cryobank—probably the world's premier sperm bank—tests for a dozen genetic disorders and for almost as many infectious diseases. Donors must complete a 38-page, three-generation medical history, and submit to months of blood testing. ...

    posted by amberglow at 9:37 AM on May 6, 2005


    Just to play devil's advocate for a second, the percentage of homosexuals with HIV is something like *3%, while the percentage of heterosexuals is about a tenth of a percent.

    So, it is statistically significant, but then, so are the white numbers. Testing should be done regardless.

    *Source: CDC estimates/US Census
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:51 AM on May 6, 2005


    ... Lesbian couples and single women are increasingly driving the sperm business. Because exotica like ICSI isn't an option for them, sperm donation is the fertility method of choice. At the Sperm Bank of California—a bank with strong feminist roots—three-quarters of the clients now are lesbians. Even at California Cryobank, probably the most successful bank, 40 percent of customers are lesbians or single women. ... Slate again

    They get to punish both gay men and lesbians with this. I guess it's another prong to the "we are not fit to be/shouldn't be parents" strategy?
    posted by amberglow at 10:01 AM on May 6, 2005


    How does this punish lesbians? Is there a shortage of anonymous sperm donors?
    posted by 23skidoo at 10:13 AM on May 6, 2005


    What a bunch of very selfish fags we have on MeFi.

    Red Cross Canada failed to protect its blood recipients from Hepatitis C and HIV. 25 000 people contracted Hep C because of this! Criminal charges were laid against the RCC, a blood processing plant in the USA, and four individuals, for their role in failing to adequately screen donors and test blood. The scandal almost destroyed RCC.

    It may be terribly upsetting to be considered a member of a high-risk population, but please consider that until a reliable and inexpensive test method is developed, it's just not worth the risk to patients. Quit being so damn selfish.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 AM on May 6, 2005


    I really don't see how this is a "punishment". I mean, I tried to donate my breastmilk to a milk bank once, and they excluded me because I had a false positive on a certain blood test (I was pregnant at the time, and pregnancy is known to cause false positives), and they weren't "punishing" me. They were just doing a shortsighted risk calculation, which is what big faceless entities do (The Human Milk Banking Association of North America in my case). They have to. They just don't have the money to sort out each individual case.
    posted by beth at 10:25 AM on May 6, 2005


    It is perfectly possible to adequately and thoroughly screen all blood and sperm donors for disease--your beef is with Red Cross, not us, fff. Criminal charges are exactly right and they should clean up their act. What's wrong is to blame us.

    Selfish is how you're acting, instead of reasonable and rational--you should look into that.

    We're not a disease-ridden population that has to be banned from things--that's far more harmful to our lives and rights. Red Cross, sperm banks, etc, are all perfectly capable of testing for all diseases, and they can do so without banning whole groups of people.
    posted by amberglow at 10:26 AM on May 6, 2005


    Amberglow: Again, when I tried to donate blood, as a heterosexual, I was disqualified because I had engaged in anal sex (and had also had unprotected sex, and had been to Thailand, etc.). They do screen against us heteros who engage in "unsafe" practices (though my sex was with a longterm partner).
    posted by klangklangston at 10:27 AM on May 6, 2005


    beth, they weren't banning all hetero women from donating breastmilk tho--that's the difference. They tested all donations--as they should always do.
    posted by amberglow at 10:27 AM on May 6, 2005


    klangklang, that proves my point--they disqualified YOU, not the group you belong to. See the difference?
    posted by amberglow at 10:28 AM on May 6, 2005


    There are no blanket bans on straights. They question as INDIVIDUALS. If they ban you, they don't then extrapolate and ban all straight people. You saw CD's stats--only 3% of gay men have HIV. I'd bet that more than 3% of straight men carry an STD.
    posted by amberglow at 10:30 AM on May 6, 2005


    Yeah but us rpr-false-positive women weren't beating our breasts about how we were being unfairly repressed from donating our milk.

    Because we know people with a *true* positive rpr shouldn't be donating milk, and they were just doing their jobs trying to safeguard the milk. They weren't out to get us, or to eliminate us, or anything sinister like that.

    It's all raw risk calculation. As stated above, the CDC figures are ~3% HIV positive for homosexual men, and a tenth of a percent for heterosexuals.

    How would *you* sift the blood donors? Given a limited budget, I mean.
    posted by beth at 10:31 AM on May 6, 2005


    I'd bet that more than 3% of straight men carry an STD

    I'm betting that a lot of these STDs are transmissible through sexual contact only, not blood and semen like HIV.
    posted by beth at 10:32 AM on May 6, 2005


    klangklang, that proves my point--they disqualified YOU, not the group you belong to. See the difference?

    No, they disqualified the group that he belonged to, that group being "People Who Have Anal Sex".
    posted by 23skidoo at 10:36 AM on May 6, 2005


    It's not all straight women that are being banned tho, just because some percent are rpr-false-positive. That's the difference.

    All blood is screened. All sperm should be, if it isn't.

    Doesn't it strike you as odd that there are NO reported cases of babies born HIV+ because of infected sperm?
    posted by amberglow at 10:36 AM on May 6, 2005


    No, they didn't disqualify the group at all--that's what bans are for, 23skidoo--they treat straight people as individuals.
    posted by amberglow at 10:37 AM on May 6, 2005


    Yes but even with screening - they don't want to have to throw out 1/33rd of what they get. They'd rather throw out a tenth of a percent of what they get.

    You're wanting them to test your secretions on *their dime*. That's kind of... presumptuous.
    posted by beth at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2005


    Pendevil: I'm sure they would like to. But refrigerated blood is usually kept for 42 days (frozen blood for a year but I'm not sure how much blood gets frozen and how much gets refrigerated) and a proper HIV test should take place after 3 months to make sure the initial 'window period' when HIV is hard to detect has passed.

    Uhh... except that the test is for HIV antibodies, not HIV itself (the tests used are the Eliza, and the Western Blot; testing directly for the virus is done by a PCR--Polymerase Chain Reaction). Blood removed from a human body isn't going to develop antibodies on its own.

    Fact is, sorry, this is pure and simple discrimination. Two friends of mine have been together since something like 1957. Monogamously. Under the rules, they can't donate. They got into a screaming match, actually, with one particularly stupid nurse/whatever, trying to explain that 'sex with a man since 1977' doesn't exactly apply when, in their case, it's 'sex with only one man, ever, since 1957'.

    If this was really about HIV, then the questions, as noted above, would be about high-risk activities:

    - Intravenous drug use
    - Blood transfusion prior to 1985
    - Intercourse without barrier protection (this could, of course, be subdivided; I doubt that many married people, of any orientation, use barrier forms of protection)
    - History of prostitution or availing onself of the services thereof

    Sexual orientation would, quite simply, not be mentioned if in fact this were about HIV, and not about yet another attempt to marginalize them durn uppity fags.

    Beth: I'm betting that a lot of these STDs are transmissible through sexual contact only, not blood and semen like HIV.

    Oh? How about Hep A/B/C? Syphilis? Have you got any idea how easy it is to have syphilis and never know?

    Further, Beth, amberglow's point seems to have gone right over your head. Let's try again:

    1) You wanted to donate breastmilk (side note, I didn't even know this was something that happened)
    2) You had a previous (false)positive test.
    3) You were denied.

    Now:

    1) I want to donate blood.
    2) I have had sex with a man since 1977.
    3) I am denied.


    Notice how there's a slight difference in step #2?
    posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2005


    All sexually-active people can possibly carry a disease. Not all sexually-active people are put under blanket bans. Straight sexually-active people are allowed to go donate and individually questioned--then if the answers aren't right, forbidden to donate as INDIVIDUALS. The GROUPS they belong to are not BANNED.

    I'm done. If you don't see the difference, then i'm saddened.
    posted by amberglow at 10:41 AM on May 6, 2005


    I really don't see this as being about the homohate. I think if 3% of people with blue eyes had HIV, they'd disqualify them as donors too.
    posted by beth at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2005


    Frankly I don't think they have the data for gay men who engage in NO risky behavior. Does the CDC keep track of this?

    It's about the groups that the data is compiled about. They only have the blanket "all gay men" = 3% positive to work with. If they had better numbers, maybe they would be more discerning.
    posted by beth at 10:43 AM on May 6, 2005


    Lets say they test all sperm, because they probably do. Judging from the CDC stats, a random gay man is 30 times more likely to have AIDS than a random straight man. A random sperm sample is 30 times more likely to be tested and found to contain HIV when it comes from a gay man then when it comes from a straight man. For every sample from a straight man that can't be used, there'll be 30 from gay men that can't be used. Testing sperm and not getting to use it is a less effective use of money than testing sperm and getting to use it.
    posted by 23skidoo at 10:46 AM on May 6, 2005


    But those samples from straight men are not spotless either. That's what's being ignored here.
    posted by amberglow at 10:47 AM on May 6, 2005


    fleener: "George wants to play both sides of the bigotry fence. Persecute for "choice" and discriminate for genetics."

    First of all, it's "Lester." As in, "the FDA's acting commissioner, Lester Crawford." The president doesn't run the FDA.

    Second, I should say that this bears repeating:

    Mean Mr. Bucket: "There is certainly a problem with poor lifestyle choices within the homosexual community. Maybe now is a good time to talk about it, instead of feigning outrage."

    Anybody who has a problem with this sentiment should take it up with the people in the gay community who are voicing it.

    This is a hard point for us straight people to deal with. On the one hand, it makes no sense for me, as a majority (straight, white) type person to talk loudly about problems in minority communities. If I wandered around complaining about black-on-black crime, I'd be causing more harm than good; and anyone who does that sort of thing will probably have a hard time claiming they do it because they care about the black community.

    But this is a serious problem-- AIDS is killing gay people. This tragedy is something that no amount of nice P.C. talk will alleviate. The horrible fact is that a few people are using their own cultural status as a shield to destroy themselves and others.

    It's hard for straight people like me to do well in this situation, because talking about it in a certain way can do damage. For example, we have to be careful, we have to let people know that there's a difference between "AIDS is a problem among gay people" and "AIDS is a gay person's disease." It ought to be no one's disease. Really, as a straight person, it probably isn't even my place to say that this is a problem among gay people; I should instead be helping people have protected sex, making condoms available. That's something I can encourage without being hurtful.

    But it's sensible to have certain limitations on sperm donations. I've been turned away from donating blood because I'd been out of country. Sure, I could call that "discrimination," and I could say that the administration is hating on me for being 'unpatriotic,' but that would be insane. I think Lamba Legal's position as described in the link is right-- these limitations perhaps should have more to do with "unprotected sex" than gay/straight-- but the way they're going about arguing for it is worse than what they're against. Turning this into an issue about discrimination hurts all the people who are still really being discriminated against out there. I don't mind-- I don't think they mind, really-- my gay friends being turned away from sperm banks. But I do mind a lot of other things they have to put up with. We probably ought to focus on those things.

    On preview: amberglow, under that logic, the screenings that people are given at blood donations are discriminatory, because they 'ban' people who've been out of country, or who've been given blood in certain circumstances. It isn't about 'banning' people; it's about being safe. I understand that perhaps the people who called for this weren't thinking very hard, but calling them bigots helps nothing. Nor does imagining a vast conspiracy against gay people from straight people at large. The ONLY thing that works is this: finding instances of real discrimination, and eliminating them.
    posted by koeselitz at 10:51 AM on May 6, 2005


    No, they didn't disqualify the group at all--that's what bans are for, 23skidoo--they treat straight people as individuals.

    Right, but I wasn't talking about straight people, I was talking about the group of people who have anal sex. It seems that group is disqualified from donating blood, according to klangklangston.

    But those samples from straight men are not spotless either. That's what's being ignored here.


    It's not a matter of finding people who have NO chance of having HIV. It's a matter of reducing the sample size so that you have less sperm with HIV to get rid of once you test it.
    posted by 23skidoo at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2005


    What 23skidoo said. If you take donations from gay men, you make them happy, but you have to throw 1/33rd away after you test it, which means money you spent on testing thrown down the drain. Far better to limit your donors to the straight, and throw away a tenth of a percent.
    posted by beth at 10:58 AM on May 6, 2005


    We call them bigots when they are bigots. When decisions made aren't based on sound science but on bigotry. When all sexually-active people are banned from donating blood or sperm, then there'll be no bigotry in these decisions.

    This is not the only bad public health decision made based on things other than good science/good public policy lately.

    All sexually-active people are at risk from HIV infection. All sexually-active people are at risk from STDS that could be passed on by blood or sperm. All sexually-active people are NOT banned from donating. It's far more than a tenth of a percent of straight people that have STDS that could be passed on.
    posted by amberglow at 10:59 AM on May 6, 2005


    and calling it something that would make us "happy" is not at all the point. That's offensive, and presumes we don't want to help others (just like other donors) but just want to be "happy".
    posted by amberglow at 11:01 AM on May 6, 2005


    It's far more than a tenth of a percent of straight people that have STDS that could be passed on.

    Please, show us some stats for blood and / or semen-borne STDs that straight people carry. Make your case to the FDA as well.
    posted by beth at 11:02 AM on May 6, 2005


    Notice how there's a slight difference in step #2?

    Actually, the "limited budget" defense is kind of strange. I mean, assuming the Kinsey numbers are true and 9 of every 10 people in the country are straight, that many more of them are cheating while monogamous, much more so with prostitutes. Numerically, there are more straight women having anal sex than gay men, which means increased HIV seroconversion rates. This means more stringent and expensive testing procedures, not only for HIV but for other STDs, hepatitis, HPV, etc. which are shown to be statistical indicators for HIV.

    The money defense just doesn't fly, sorry folks.

    Frankly, if I was a budget administrator with an eye on getting the cleanest source of blood possible, I would try to go with whatever groups are playing by the ball. Discriminating on sexual orientation and stereotypes of sexual behavior based upon orientation would seem to defeat "saving money". Try again.
    posted by AlexReynolds at 11:06 AM on May 6, 2005


    I'm glad this makes all the right people angry.
    posted by ParisParamus at 11:11 AM on May 6, 2005


    Acknowledging differences is not the same thing as bigotry. Based on the CDC numbers linked above, a random gay man is about 30 times more likely to have AIDS then a random straight man. That's science. Well, it's math, but it's not bigotry.
    posted by 23skidoo at 11:15 AM on May 6, 2005


    Numerically, there are more straight women having anal sex than gay men, which means increased HIV seroconversion rates.

    Okay...but how many women out there are giving away semen samples?

    All sexually-active people are at risk from HIV infection. All sexually-active people are at risk from STDS that could be passed on by blood or sperm. All sexually-active people are NOT banned from donating.

    You're not listening to the numbers; just generalizing the entire issue as "bigotry". Again, as 23skidoo said: It's not a matter of finding people who have NO chance of having HIV. It's a matter of reducing the sample size so that you have less sperm with HIV to get rid of once you test it.

    While this policy does appear like bigotry, and we certainly have the political climate to warrant such a claim, this particular case has resounding statistical evidence that proves its merits. It's your choice not to believe it; but don't point the finger and blame anyone unless you have equally sound statistical data.

    I suggest that both amberglow and AlexReynolds reread koeslitz's last comment. It's intelligent and informative.
    posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:15 AM on May 6, 2005


    Alex it may perplex you that the numbers don't show what you think they should show, but as has been stated numerous times in the thread, gay males have about a 3% HIV infection rate, whereas straights have maybe a tenth of a percent. Do you wish blood bank and semen bank administrators to completely ignore this fact, in the face of facts about how hetero people sleep around a lot?

    Who cares, if it isn't reflected in their HIV rates?
    posted by beth at 11:17 AM on May 6, 2005


    amberglow: "We call them bigots when they are bigots. When decisions made aren't based on sound science but on bigotry. When all sexually-active people are banned from donating blood or sperm, then there'll be no bigotry in these decisions."

    Anal sex is more likely to lead to infection than vaginal intercourse. Any sexually active gay person who can give sperm is extremely likely to have had anal sex. Maybe they should be saying "all people who've had anal sex." I'm sure some straight people have anal sex. Would that be "non-bigoted?"

    My objection isn't to the fact that your bothered. Lord knows everybody on the face of the planet has a right to get paid to donate their man-juice; I can see how annoying it would be to get 'banned,' as you put it, from doing that. My objection is to the fact that you keep using the word 'bigotry.' There's no evidence anywhere here that this was based on the belief that "AIDS is a homosexual thing." The FDA isn't quarantining the population here, it isn't screaming about how gay people are murdering us all. That would be awful, but it isn't doing that. And when you jump on them for that, it's the boy crying wolf all over again, and it becomes harder and harder for gay people to gain legitimate respect and relief from the actual bigotry in this society.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:21 AM on May 6, 2005


    koeselitz++
    posted by beth at 11:22 AM on May 6, 2005


    23skidoo: Then why not ban black men? They have higher numbers than white men. Where is the line in the sand drawn, and more importantly, why? If the homosexual HIV infection rates were to drop to 1%, would that be OK? Because it seems to me, the HIV rates of homosexual men will always be at least slightly higher than heterosexuals, and if this is the only basis for the exclusion, there is no chance of homosexuals ever being allowed to donate sperm/blood. Unless a cure is found, of course.
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:27 AM on May 6, 2005


    Just a quick reminder that just like heterosexuals, not all homosexuals engage in anal sex, which seems to be the riskiest method of transmission.

    I understand that homosexuality has a higher rate of hiv than other populations. However, if I'm in a committed monogamous relationship with a partner of longer than one year and we've never engaged in anal sex, could I donate then? If not, why?

    on preview: "Any sexually active gay person...is extremely likely to have had anal sex." Gosh, koeselitz, sounds like you know a lot of homosexuals to make such a statement. Because I have several gay friends who have NEVER had anal sex!
    posted by Bear at 11:28 AM on May 6, 2005


    Your exception doesn't invalidate the fact that 3% of gay men have HIV, I'm afraid. This is epidemiology, it's about *populations*, not individuals.
    posted by beth at 11:36 AM on May 6, 2005


    Please, show us some stats for blood and / or semen-borne STDs that straight people carry. Make your case to the FDA as well.

    Blood donation: The specific tests currently performed are listed below:

    * Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)
    * Hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc)
    * Hepatitis C virus antibody (anti-HCV)
    * HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibody (anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-2)
    * HTLV-I and HTLV-II antibody (anti-HTLV-I and anti-HTLV-II)
    * Serologic test for syphilis
    * Nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT) for HIV-1 and HCV
    * NAT for WNV
    --from American Association of Blook Banks

    Hepatitis B = Estimated 1.25 million chronically infected Americans, of whom 20-30% acquired their infection in childhood. (CDC)
    Hepatitis C = Estimated 3.9 million (1.8%) Americans have been infected with HCV, of whom 2.7 million are chronically infected. (CDC)
    Syphillis = The incidence of infectious syphilis was highest in women 20 to 24 years of age and in men 35 to 39 years of age. (CDC)
    posted by amberglow at 11:36 AM on May 6, 2005


    Bear: Yes, I know. I'm sorry to offend, if I did; I myself have a gay friend who doesn't have anal sex. But-- and I grant that this may just be my own perception-- anal sex seems to be the 'position of choice' among gay males in our society. There were times and places it was different.

    In fact, I think the FDA could've saved a lot of time and trouble if they had only said they were screening 'those who have engaged in anal sex.' I still believe that this would've ruled out most active gay men-- again, I'm open to statistics on this-- but it would've sounded better, and expressed a spirit of fairness and scientific thoroughness.

    posted by koeselitz at 11:38 AM on May 6, 2005


    Gosh, Beth, I think you're really missing the point that I (and others like Amberglow) am making. Homosexuals are treated as a "population" while heterosexuals are treated as an "individual".

    Personally, I pose a low threat level of contamination. However, due my sexual orientation, I am not allowed to donate.

    I don't know about you folks, but I consider donating blood a civic duty! And it infuriates me that I can't donate without deception.
    posted by Bear at 11:40 AM on May 6, 2005


    If the homosexual HIV infection rates were to drop to 1%, would that be OK?

    I honestly believe that this ban was based on a few actuaries who were hired to figured out what the most efficient method of testing was. They realized how much extra money was put into throwing out HIV positive samples and realized that 3% of infected gays is a significant risk to the general population. No one can answer whether or not 1% will pass muster with the FDA because their reasoning was so ambiguous. But I think that lowering the % of HIV positive gays would be beneficial to everyone, right?
    posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:42 AM on May 6, 2005


    Well part of that is that there are a lot more of us, frankly (heteros). And if they ruled *us* out as well, they'd have no donors at all.

    Seriously, I ask you: were you to run a blood or sperm bank, what criteria would *you* use to filter your donors? What is the best set of questions to ask? What will minimize the amount of stuff you have to throw out?

    If you have a serious alternate plan, then try to make your case to the FDA. What's the HIV infection rate of homosexual males who practice only safe sex? Who are in committed monogamous relationships? Who never do anal sex? Show them these numbers.

    p.s. I can't donate blood anymore because of a low hematocrit. But you don't see me bitching about how us low-hematocrit people are discriminated against, as a population.
    posted by beth at 11:45 AM on May 6, 2005


    I don't know about you folks, but I consider donating blood a civic duty! And it infuriates me that I can't donate without deception.

    Likewise. A double standard is being perpetrated based on orientation and it is saddening that others cannot grasp that.
    posted by AlexReynolds at 11:45 AM on May 6, 2005


    Then why not ban black men? They have higher numbers than white men. Where is the line in the sand drawn, and more importantly, why? If the homosexual HIV infection rates were to drop to 1%, would that be OK?

    My guess would be because most sperm donors want sperm from someone who looks like them. Or if not, they want to be able to choose the racial make-up of their kid. Excluding sperm from gay men from the pool of anonymous donations isn't going to make there be less gay sperm-donor-babies in the same way that excluding sperm from black men would definitely mean there would be less black sperm-donor-babies.

    I don't know where to draw the line in the sand. I don't have access to all kinds of numbers to crunch which would point me to that magic percent below which allowing gay men to donate would make monetary sense. But just because I don't have access to this info doesn't mean it's not out there, that the numbers haven't been crunched, and that 3% was found to be too high.
    posted by 23skidoo at 11:46 AM on May 6, 2005


    Numerically, there are more straight women having anal sex than gay men, which means increased HIV seroconversion rates.

    But what matters is per capita rates, not numeric ones. There are at least 5 times as many straight women as gay men.

    It's worth mentioning that not all gay men have anal sex, either -- where I live, most gay guys are scared of it. It's in the gay meccas (New York, San Francisco) that the gay population has the highest HIV rates, which is exactly the opposite of how it should be; those places have had the most exposure to targetted prevention messages. Prevention has failed. It's time to start getting pissed off about this instead of wasting energy on the red cross.

    Homosexuals are treated as a "population" while heterosexuals are treated as an "individual".

    The question isn't "are you gay"; it's "are you a man who has had sex with a man since 1977". It's similar to "have you been to England between 1999 and 2003," or whatever that one is. Yes, it's a question frought with history, but it's still a simple question. Every question will divide people into "populations"; that's how actuaries think.

    Also. Fuck you, ParisParamus. Right in the ass.
    posted by Tlogmer at 11:49 AM on May 6, 2005


    Beth: You made my point perfectly. I have NO communicable diseases as an individual, despite the fact my "population" has a high incidence. You sound like you have a communicable disease [unsure what hematocrit is] that legitmately prevents YOU (not your "population") from donating.
    posted by Bear at 11:50 AM on May 6, 2005


    Bear: "Homosexuals are treated as a 'population' while heterosexuals are treated as an 'individual.'... I don't know about you folks, but I consider donating blood a civic duty! And it infuriates me that I can't donate without deception."

    First, 'duties' aren't 'rights.' Second, you apparently have common cause with all the poor people who've traveled abroad recently or who've recieved blood transfusions. Even if they 'pose a low risk' individually, they're treated as a 'population' rather than an 'individual.' Are you worried that people who travel abroad or recieve blood are being discriminated against?

    See, screening means treating people as populations. It means finding a group at risk and excluding them. Straight people are treated like that just as much as you are. And this isn't a lunch counter, it's a donation of bodily fluids; and the fact remains: people who have anal sex are at risk. Saying so isn't bigotry. Admitting it is the first step toward helping them. Helping them involves two things: encouraging safe sex, and confronting real bigotry.

    Honestly, I can only make these points so many times. There are more important things-- like real bigotry-- that we could be talking about here.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:50 AM on May 6, 2005


    Gosh, Beth, I think you're really missing the point that I (and others like Amberglow) am making. Homosexuals are treated as a "population" while heterosexuals are treated as an "individual".

    I don't know about the US but in Canada there are alot of populations that are in the same position. For example, you cannot donate blood if you have been in the UK for more than 3 months (in total) since 1980 (due to mad cow), or if you've lived in any one of a long list of African countries at any time since 1977. In fact, there is a list of 28 populations, in addition to gay men, who cannot donate blood.

    I am not saying this is the right way to do things. It's well outside my field of expertise in any case. I know it would be frustrating to be in one of those groups, and I would sure want the policy to change. But I don't see that gay men are the only group being treated this way. Is there something different that I'm missing?
    posted by winston at 11:52 AM on May 6, 2005


    As an addendum, I can't donate sperm anywhere: I'm 5'7", and that's too short. You haven't heard me yelling about eugenics. Yes, gay people have a history of persecution that short people lack, but even so.
    posted by Tlogmer at 11:53 AM on May 6, 2005


    koeseltiz: Are you worried that people who travel abroad or recieve blood are being discriminated against?

    Like you, there are only so many ways to restate our respective positions. I'm not worried about being discriminated one bit. That's not why I'm upset. Sheesh, the anti-marriage amendments are much more discriminatory and worrisome than this!

    What I am "worried" about is that there are national blood shortages and my safe blood cannot be used to help them. I have the ability to prevent people from dying simply by donating blood, but I can't. And I wish things were different.
    posted by Bear at 11:56 AM on May 6, 2005


    Bear: the trouble isn't simple-mindedness, though. Screening procedures at blood banks can't be full-blown psychological sessions; I know how understaffed those people are, and they don't have the time. They can't sift through, "so, who do you have sex with? Are you a top, a bottom, or neither? Does the condom ever break? Are you monogamous?" After a while, long lists of questions are too much to deal with, so they segment off a portion of the population in one swoop. It's the only way they can do their job.
    posted by koeselitz at 12:17 PM on May 6, 2005


    I can't donate blood anymore because of a low hematocrit. But you don't see me bitching about how us low-hematocrit people are discriminated against, as a population.

    False analogy.

    You are prohibitted because of something you already admit to having. What you said is akin to "I can't donate blood anymore because I'm HIV+", which nobody is arguing against.

    It's the same as Tlogmer's argument about denied because he's 5'7". In the case against homosexuals, they are being discriminated against because they might be 5'7", or might have a low hemocrit.
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:27 PM on May 6, 2005


    After a while, long lists of questions are too much to deal with, so they segment off a portion of the population in one swoop.

    Are you Jewish, or not?

    Wow, that was, like, so easy!
    posted by AlexReynolds at 12:39 PM on May 6, 2005


    Oh, good god. Look, here, I'll say it one more time, Alex. The screening procedure should go like this:

    "Have you been out of country?"

    "Have you recieved a blood transfusion?"

    "Have you had unsafe or risky sex, that is, unprotected or anal sex?"

    Oops, looks like we just excluded almost all of the gay population. Here comes Hitler!

    posted by koeselitz at 12:48 PM on May 6, 2005


    So, if gay males are one tenth of the population and 3% of that tenth of the population are infected, the question still remains:
    How many infected gay men are UNAWARE of their status? Also, does this tiny, unaware fraction of the population regularly contaminate blood and semen supplies?

    Are these fluid banks actually encountering a problem that causes them to discard their supplies? Or, are they just trying to preempt an imaginary problem?
    posted by Jon-o at 12:53 PM on May 6, 2005


    Gay men aren't being treated as a population. They're being treated as individuals. Male homosexuals who haven't had sex with a man since 1977 are free to donate (no word on whether this disqualifies Catholic priests or not).
    I realize that's a disingenuous marker, but having homosexual sex (technically, homosexual anal sex) since 1977 is something that raises your risk factor for STDs, particularly HIV. Just like using intravenous drugs. And sure, both of those unfairly keep out people who are clean but have engaged in the risk-raising behavior. There are plenty of heroin users who only use clean needles and never swap. There are probably even more per capita gay men who are monogamous and clean.
    One way to get around this would be for people who really want to donate who are in one of those higher-risk groups (which include heterosexuals who have had anal sex) to get screened on their own, through a lab that the Red Cross is willing to certify, and have a card that they can present that shows them to be "clean." Obviously, the blood or semen would still have to be tested, but it would allow a quicker turn-around than asking a barrage of questions.
    As for semen, I can't really see there being the sorts of lines that there always are to donate blood, so I'd imagine that a better solution would be to simply go more in-depth with the questioning with regard to sexual proclivities (if you're dropping off cum, you shouldn't mind telling someone that you've done a friend in the butt).
    posted by klangklangston at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2005


    Oops, looks like we just excluded almost all of the gay population. Here comes Hitler!

    Well, it is springtime...


    posted by AlexReynolds at 1:00 PM on May 6, 2005


    1) I want to donate blood.
    2) I have had sex with a man since 1977.
    3) I am denied.


    1) I want to donate blood.
    2) I have a tatoo.
    3) I am denied.

    1) I want to donate blood.
    2) I have been to Britain recently.
    3) I am denied.

    1) I want to donate blood.
    2) I engage in anal sex.
    3) I am denied.

    1) I want to donate blood.
    2) I am a lightweight.
    3) I am denied.

    There's no freakin' difference between any of those. They all wisely discriminate against high-risk populations. It's got nothing to do with you as a person, and everything to do with statistics.
    posted by five fresh fish at 1:11 PM on May 6, 2005


    1) I want to donate sperm.
    2) I am a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex (all kinds) with HIV-positive prostitutes last year.
    3) I am allowed.

    --AP
    posted by amberglow at 1:18 PM on May 6, 2005


    Is there some big joy or reward for donating blood and/or sperm?

    Money. A friend made 50-75 dollars 3 times a week donating sperm. He was able to do it for over a year, adding about $7,800-$11,700 to his income before taxes. And, because of the screenings at his clinic, he received physical exams with all the STD tests on a quarterly basis (which is nice if you don't have insurance.)
    posted by sophie at 1:19 PM on May 6, 2005


    1) I want to donate sperm.
    2) I am a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex (all kinds) with HIV-positive prostitutes last year.
    3) I am allowed.


    Seems like a double standard to me. Case closed.
    posted by AlexReynolds at 1:25 PM on May 6, 2005


    One thing that people seem to be missing here is that tests are not perfect. Blood from gay people is 30 times more likely to be infected. That means it's 30 times as likely to slip through screenings. It would be difficult or impossible to improve the tests to be 30 times better. It's very cheap to exclude on risk factors, even if some people mope about having their feelings hurt. Fluid donations are not for the benefit of the donor. Why don't people get this?

    Arguing that they shouldn't be able to eliminate gay people (specifically, gay men) from the donating population is arguing to KILL PEOPLE so that part of the population can feel good about themselves.

    "Yay, I'm not discriminated against. Shame about the folks whose lives I destroyed, but, hey, gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, right?"

    You are ignoring medical reality to push an ideology. Remember that the next time you see conservatives arguing about evolution or gay marriage.
    posted by Malor at 1:44 PM on May 6, 2005


    I should also add that the blood bank criteria seem a bit anachronistic.... the sperm donation is okay after five years without having gay sex.

    The "since 1977" rule at the blood bank was created a very long time ago, and I don't think it was ever revisited. With the better tests we have now, I'd think five years would be perfectly safe, and it would probably increase the blood pool a little. It's possible that shorter periods might be okay too.... I'm no AIDS expert, but I think a negative test after a year is enough to be essentially certain that you don't have AIDS.

    That part of the standard probably should be redone... it's rather archaic.
    posted by Malor at 1:48 PM on May 6, 2005


    You are ignoring medical reality to push an ideology.

    Bullshit. The medical reality is that many people--both straight and gay--have blood/sperm that may or may not be contaminated with something.
    posted by amberglow at 1:56 PM on May 6, 2005


    I think it's been beaten to death, but here are my $0.02.

    TESTING IS NOT PERFECT. NO TEST CAN CATCH EVERYTHING. Beyond that it's "how much risk are we willing to tolerate for social inclusion".

    Assume that all blood is tested. No test is perfect, especially for HIV given that there is up to a 6-month latency period between infection and detectability. Let's say that the test is 99.99% accurate, counting only for false-negatives. In other words, for every 10,000 infected bags that are caught, 1 infected bag will slip through.

    If the heterosexual HIV rate is 0.1% then each bag of tested blood from a heterosexual has a 1-in-10-million chance of carrying HIV. If the homosexual HIV rate is 3% (using numbers from above), then each bag of tested blood from a homosexual has a 1-in-333,000 chance of carrying HIV.

    Those numbers are despite testing. Given that around 24 million units of blood are used each year, those numbers are significant. Assuming a gay population of 10% that is equally likely to donate, allowing gays to donate would increase the number of transmissions of HIV through transfusion by 2x to 3x (from 2.4 per year to 7.2 per year, using the numbers above). You can argue whether 5 innocent people per year being infected with HIV is worth the cost in appearing discriminatory, but I suspect those people might have a pretty strong position.

    Further, we can only test for things we know about. AIDS has been transmitted by transfusion because people didn't even know to test for it in the 1980's. I think blood and sperm bank doctors might be a bit hesitant to repeat that mistake and thus err on the side of over-cautiousness.

    It sucks, but right now being gay correlates very strongly with being at-risk for HIV. There is no way to perfectly test every unit of blood/semen/etc. Unless we find a perfect test then eliminating risk factors at the door makes a lot of sense. If one day the heterosexual HIV rate matches that of homosexuals then I will be the first to advocate allowing equal donations. Until then, safety first.
    posted by thedevildancedlightly at 4:51 PM on May 6, 2005


    1) I want to donate sperm.
    2) I am a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex (all kinds) with HIV-positive prostitutes last year.
    3) I am allowed.
    Seems like a double standard to me. Case closed.


    I don't know where you're donating blood. At the local blood center (Blood Centers of the Pacific), if you have had sex with a high-risk group member then you're not elligible. End of story. The person above would not be allowed to donate.
    posted by thedevildancedlightly at 4:52 PM on May 6, 2005


    Thank-you for putting that into numbers, TDDL.
    posted by five fresh fish at 5:51 PM on May 6, 2005


    thedevildancedlightly - Well done!
    posted by Witty at 10:43 PM on May 6, 2005


    Devil, I wish I'd approached it from that angle, instead of just being fuzzy with it. I think you probably overstated the accuracy of the test though. Triple-nine is more likely.

    Don't mistake me for anti-gay... I'm a HUGE proponent of gay rights. I think they should be afforded every right to do whatever they want in the privacy of their homes. They should be able to marry whomever they choose, and adopt children if they are sufficiently emotionally and fiscally stable.

    So, that said..... gay people... are you willing to kill five people a year so that you can feel better about yourselves? Or, if it's a triple nine test, is it okay for fifty people to die so that you can feel included? If the test is only 99% accurate, and 500 people will die... is that okay? Where is the line?

    Donations aren't for the benefit of the donor. Why don't people get this?

    amber: look at Devil's numbers. Yes, straight people can be infected too. But gay people are a lot more dangerous to accept blood from... thirty times as dangerous. Are you really willing to kill people because you refuse to accept that reality?

    If so, you are doing exactly what you hate in conservatives... ignoring facts because they clash with your ideology. Your fundamental premise appears to be 'gay people are just as good as straight people and should always be included'.

    But the simple medical truth is that gay people carry disease more often. If you deny that, then you are denying reality because you don't WANT to believe it. This is exactly what the bible-thumpers do.

    You don't have the right to put people at risk because your beliefs don't match the facts. Gay men are much riskier to accept blood from than the rest of the population. Excluding them is saving lives. Ignoring that reality and including them because you don't think they should be discriminated against will kill people.

    How can you knowingly continue to argue that stance? I've really liked most of what you've posted, and I am entirely mystified why this isn't sinking in.
    posted by Malor at 11:59 PM on May 6, 2005


    1) I want to donate sperm.
    2) I am Justice Scallia.
    3) I am denied.

    (just lightening up)

    Why don't people get this?
    It looks as though the arguments are more over the potential social implications of the FDA ban more than the actual ban itself.
    Particularly among the low-brows, but many of you brainy folks seem to be arguing: "Banning risky behavior donors = good" vs. "Others engage in risky behavior too, ergo banning one particular group = bad"
    Both sets are true. Obviously there is an efficiency factor and the cold numbers folks could care less who's feelings get hurt as long as they break the curve and save lives.
    On the other hand some chimpfuckers can point to the data used and say shame shame on you gay folks for your unnatural wanton lifestyles and teach their kids it's ok drag them behind pickup trucks and beat them to death.
    Which is why there's a bit of emotion behind it which could lead to some irrationality, but certainly some legitimate concern, Malor.
    posted by Smedleyman at 12:36 AM on May 7, 2005


    All sexually-active people are at risk from HIV infection. All sexually-active people are at risk from STDS that could be passed on by blood or sperm. All sexually-active people are NOT banned from donating.

    Well, of course. Banning donations from homosexuals would, as TDDL posed, greatly increase the safety of the donated fluids, while decreasing the donor base by ~10%. Banning donations from all sexually active people would probably reduce risk to infinitesimal levels, true. But that would eradicate 80-90% of your donor base. It is just not an effective strategy, especially if you want to receive enough donations to, well, actually help people.

    That said, I do think we should find a way to test donated samples from homosexuals and not just write that entire (higher-risk) group off as donors. Every little (uncontaminated) bit helps; there are always people who will need blood -- or semen samples.
    posted by jenovus at 1:22 AM on May 7, 2005


    Thinking again, even 90% is probably a conservative estimate. Or maybe I just have sex on the brain.
    posted by jenovus at 1:23 AM on May 7, 2005


    I don't see any controversy.

    It's not a double standard - it's a standard.

    Group A has disease in .01% of the population.
    Group B has disease in 3% of the population.

    Taking donations from group B presents an unnecessary risk.
    This comparison is the same as any of the criteria you must meet to donate blood. There is no difference.
    posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:13 AM on May 7, 2005


    So, that said..... gay people... are you willing to kill five people a year so that you can feel better about "yourselves?"

    Before we get branded as murderers, please step back and really think that through. If that's honestly what you think, fine. But if not, that's a really f'd up statement to make it. You are totally missing the point.

    ** And for the record -- as stated above -- my problem with this policy is that since we have blood shortages, and I have safe blood, it makes me feel guilty that I can't help. That doesn't sound like a "murderer" to me. **
    posted by Bear at 7:03 AM on May 7, 2005


    Well, and there's the crux of the problem: there needs to be a way for the disease-free of any sort to donate blood, perhaps by offloading the testing cost onto those who test positive. Those who are clean would then be donating, those who are not would (a) find out that they are not, and (b) would pay for their test.

    The whole semen issue is something else entirely, IMO. If semen isn't already being tested very, very thoroughly for all sorts of problems -- including genetic diseases -- then wtf? When creating new lives, I'm thinking it's worth the extra cost of thorough testing, which will be so expensive and so prone to tossing the donation that HIV will be a minor part of it all.
    posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 AM on May 7, 2005


    But gay people are a lot more dangerous to accept blood from... thirty times as dangerous. Are you really willing to kill people because you refuse to accept that reality?

    It's not so, and your loaded and bigoted language is telling. "Are you really willing to kill people?" Go fuck yourself.

    The reality is that MANY people--both straight, gay, and bi--are a lot more dangerous to accept blood from--sluts, whores, players, Jenna and Barbara Bush, Uncle Neil Bush, Paris Hilton, and every single straight 20-something person in the country--everyone who sleeps around a lot and is unsafe.

    Either apply the same standards to everyone or stop discriminating against a whole group of people, whether they are "dangerous" or not. Don't talk about the danger from us as a whole, when millions and millions are the same risks to the blood and sperm supply.
    posted by amberglow at 8:59 AM on May 7, 2005


    I don't know where you're donating blood. At the local blood center (Blood Centers of the Pacific), if you have had sex with a high-risk group member then you're not elligible. End of story. The person above would not be allowed to donate.

    Read above. I was explicitly referring to the Red Cross. This is the very definition of a double standard, when "at-risk" straights can donate while "clean" gays cannot.
    posted by AlexReynolds at 9:42 AM on May 7, 2005


    I am a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex (all kinds) with HIV-positive prostitutes last year.

    Really? Both "unprotected sex" and "multiple partners (more than one) in a year" were caught by the questionnaires I answered at the Red Cross last time around.

    Where have you been giving blood?
    posted by dreamsign at 10:00 AM on May 7, 2005


    That was a quote from the AP article about semen.
    posted by amberglow at 10:06 AM on May 7, 2005


    Please hold the conversation, I'm adjusting my blinders. Gracias.
    posted by Witty at 11:06 AM on May 7, 2005


    LALALALALALA! I CAN'T HEAR THE STATISTICS! LALALALA!
    posted by five fresh fish at 11:30 AM on May 7, 2005


    Pentafish, statistics are great.

    Except when they ignore reality.

    Again, if this were truly an HIV issue, the screening process would simply weed out high-risk behaviour for individuals--as is done with heterosexual donors. Look at Bear; long term, monogamous relationship, known to be HIV negative. No risk factors, except for anal sex. And if no one involved in the anal sex is HIV+, it's not like the virus spontaneously generates.
    posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:32 PM on May 7, 2005


    amberglow: :"It's not so, and your loaded and bigoted language is telling."

    Whoa. Calm down, buddy.

    Look, maybe there's a double standard. People are saying that's a possibility. But talking about this too much, arguing about it too much, will lead us into a corner. Personally, I'm all for changing this to be exactly like the blood-bank standards, or, if those are 'anachronistic' (as someone said above), finding a new standard.

    But nobody's being bigoted here. Keep this in perspective. Nobody's screaming about anything, nobody's calling for programs of eugenics. Saying so only breeds a kind of hysterical anxiety on every side that will make this harder. Gay people and straight people need to learn to live in peace. The major part of that effort is getting straight people to be accepting. But we also need to be careful not to perpetuate the infighting through unfounded accusations of bigotry.

    That's just my two cents. Sorry if I offend-- I don't mean to.

    posted by koeselitz at 1:46 PM on May 7, 2005


    Hell's bloody bells, I had an excellent post composed of statistical facts, and accidently shut down the browser just as I was finishing it up. Bloody clumsy fingers.

    I'm not going to retype it. Suffice to say that there are good, solid statistics that indicate (a) homosexuals tend to have more sexual partners than heterosexuals; (b) committed homosexual relationships tend to last only a few years; (c) homosexuals in a committed relationship tend to engage in anal sex moreso than those not in committed relationships; (d) homosexuals in "monogamous" relationships tend to have partners outside the relationship; (e) homosexuals are far, far, far more likely to carry HIV than others.

    These are all statistics that are opposite those for heterosexual couples: hets have fewer partners, relationships that tend to last an order of magnitude longer, lower levels of risky sexual behaviour, true monogamy an order of magnitude higher, and HIV infections an order of magnitude lower.

    Which, all in all, indicates that homosexuals in a committed monogamous relationship are still more likely to have HIV than their heterosexual counterparts. By an order of magnitude at least.

    The facts remain unchanged: as a population, homosexuals -- even when identifying as having a long-term monogamous relationship -- are a significant risk to the blood bank industry.

    As a footnote, I believe the solution to the problem lies in legalising gay marriage. I believe that the homosexual social culture will, over time, trend toward truly long-term, truly monogamous relationships when such are supported by our laws and general culture.

    Sorry this isn't the post that it was supposed to be. It was a lot better first time around.
    posted by five fresh fish at 2:56 PM on May 7, 2005


    Bear, yes, my statement was loaded on purpose. I worded it that way to try to shock you guys out of your thinking patterns. Insisting that gay people should be able to donate freely, when the actual statistical fact is that gay male blood is 30 times more dangerous than the rest of the population, will kill people.

    I realize that your blood specifically may be perfectly safe. Anytime you're dealing with large groups of people, you will be able to show exceptions to generalities, exactly as amber is pointing out that some straights are exceptionally unsafe in their activities. (note also that the blood banks try hard to screen them out too, with other questions.)

    And I do respect your wish to donate. Unfortunately, even if you and your partner are perfectly safe, there are enough gay men that are NOT that you're being tarred with their brush. The only real solution I see here is a long term one....the gay male population needs to reduce its infection rates.

    Like it or not, as a member of that population, your blood is less safe. As others are mentioning up earlier in the thread, as a straight male I can be barred for any number of behaviors. It is just simply sensible to exclude known large risk factors.

    As far as I'm concerned, it's not a value judgement saying that 'gays are bad, ewww!' It's just about safety. Donations are for the recipient, not for the donor to feel good. Accepting dangerous donations as 'social engineering' will kill people, and I don't think that's an acceptable outcome.

    amber: I'm sorry, but your thinking is really messed up. You are refusing to accept reality because it doesn't match what you want it to be. You are exactly like a conservative in this regard.

    You say: The reality is that MANY people--both straight, gay, and bi--are a lot more dangerous to accept blood from--sluts, whores, players, Jenna and Barbara Bush, Uncle Neil Bush, Paris Hilton, and every single straight 20-something person in the country--everyone who sleeps around a lot and is unsafe.

    I guess you don't understand how it works when dealing with populations. The simple fact is that even with these people in the mainstream population, gay male blood is still thirty times more dangerous! Why don't you get that? And note that the blood banks ask questions specifically to try to weed these people out.

    They are doing their best to eliminate risk factors to make the donated blood supply safe. The biggest risk factor is being a gay male. You list a lot of other risk factors too, but they refuse those people too whenever possible.

    I absolutely stand behind my 'are you willing to kill people' question, because it's the truth. Look at thedevildancedlightly's numbers. You are SO CERTAIN that gays should be accepted in all things, that if you were in charge of the blood supply, you would be killing people needlessly. That's pretty messed up.

    Again, yes, it's a loaded question, because I'm trying to shock you into realizing that you really are arguing that innocent people should die to support your worldview. But it's not bigoted. You will probably find no stronger friend of gay rights anywhere.


    Blood and sperm donations, however, aren't even vaguely a right. They're a gift. Gifts are for the benefit of the recipient, not the giver.
    posted by Malor at 3:41 PM on May 7, 2005


    (Yes, I am aware some heterosexuals also have anal sex, but certainly not all of them do)

    Surveys of self-reported sexual behavior aren't perfectly accurate, but the last survey I saw, beth, reported that only about 1/3 of gay men engage in anal sex with any regularity. The percentage of straight couples who engage in anal sex wasn't as big, but was growing. Seems that "some...but certainly not all of them" applies to both groups.

    I mean, have you seen the rows upon rows of hetero anal porn at adult bookstores? Good lord, there's tons of the stuff.

    Like it or not, as a member of that population, your blood is less safe.

    That's a completely unscientific and ridiculous statement. The virus shows up within weeks for most people, 6 months for almost anyone. If a straight guy who fucks a stranger is allowed to give blood a year after the event, and the blood banks trust their tests to catch it, then there's absolutely no fucking reason a gay guy whose tested negative for ten years and reports no outside partners shouldn't be given equal treatment.
    posted by mediareport at 5:03 PM on May 7, 2005


    Do you deny that taken as a group, STDs are nearly endemic to the homosexual population?

    My quick googling indicates that upwards of three-quarters of homosexual men carry an STD, while less than one-fifth the heterosexual population is a carrier.

    Do you deny that taken as a group, homosexuals engage in high-risk behaviour at a frequency far, far higher than that of the heterosexual population? This would include promiscuous sex, short-term relationships, non-monogamous relationships, drug use, and anal sex.

    Again, my quick googling indicates that this is the case.
  • As a group, three-quarters of homosexual men claim to have had anal sex; well under fifteen percent of heterosexual men claim the same.
  • As a group, homosexual men are twice as likely to use injection drugs as heterosexual men (12-20% versus 6-9%)
  • As a group, upward of seventy-five percent of homosexuals while in a couple relationship, had sexual partners outside the relationship. In the homosexual population it is the exact opposite: seventy-five percent maintain an exclusive sexual relationship with their partner.
  • As a group, homosexual relationships last two years on average. In the heterosexual population it's ten years.
  • As a group, homosexuals claim to have, on average, many, many partners (the numbers vary widely and while the median seems to be about ten partners, the average is an order of magnitude greater). For homosexuals, the number of partners over a lifetime averages eight.

    Do you deny these statistics?

    The average homosexual has a lifespan under forty-five years. The average heterosexual has a lifespan of about seventy-five years.

    Do you deny this?

    I agree on one thing: it sucks that the gay population is a high-risk population.

    It sucks that, as a member of that high-risk population, you will be discriminated against because the actuarial tables indicate the cost-benefit ratio isn't worth the risk.

    I sincerely hope that some day -- and hopefully within a generation -- gay culture will be such that there is less promiscuity, less drug use, less hooking-up, and less high-risk behaviour.

    I think it's going to take a lot more tolerance on the part of the heterosexual community before that can happen.

    It's also going to take a reality check by those homosexuals who believe all is sunshine and light in their community. It isn't good at all: the community is destroying itself by its behaviours. You must encourage change from within.

    Finally, I hope the blood banks figure out a cost-effective means of allowing those homosexuals who are living a clean lifestyle to donate blood. It would indeed be better that way.

  • posted by five fresh fish at 6:58 PM on May 7, 2005


    I'm not a fucking murderer and not surprisingly, that's really fucking offensive! I simply want to give blood to save lives. I'm sick and tired for being attacked for that. If the system doesn't allow for INDIVIDUALS like myself, then the system is only hurting itself. If you think otherwise, fine. I see your point, but it doesn't account for INDIVIDUALS like me who don't fit into a box. I just find it extremely depressing that you can't see that. Jesus, I'm obviously not going to change minds, but if y'all could stop calling me a murderer (malor), that'd be fucking great. Thanks!
    posted by Bear at 8:47 PM on May 7, 2005


    what Bear said.

    and fff, don't quote discredited and false statistics. and a link or two would help too.
    posted by amberglow at 8:50 PM on May 7, 2005


    more on where those false statistics come from--you should be ashamed of yourself, fff.
    posted by amberglow at 8:55 PM on May 7, 2005


    The average homosexual has a lifespan under forty-five years. The average heterosexual has a lifespan of about seventy-five years.

    Do you deny this?


    Yes; those numbers are completely wrong. The only study saying that also implied that lesbians were 200 times more likely to die in car crashes than straight women -- that's because it used as its data source the number of articles in gay publications about deaths there were (and old people dying is less newsworthy). That same dataset also implies that gay people with AIDS die at an absurdly young age (7, I think) and is riddled with other methodological problems.

    *sigh* This is a depressing debate. I'd have to agree that amberglow et al are being doctrinaire, but neither is the gay lifespan much lower than the straight one (if at all). I remember my mom's reaction when I told her I had a date with a guy -- "gay people die" -- I had to look up a bunch of articles for her with proper, current statistics.

    A good canadian study on the subject.

    I think I'm with Malor on this; but not FFF.

    It's the same as Tlogmer's argument about denied because he's 5'7". In the case against homosexuals, they are being discriminated against because they might be 5'7"

    No, 5'7" people can't donate because nobody might want short kids. Somebody might, too, but the statistics make it not-worth-it. It's exactly the same (except for the history of persecution of gay people, of course).
    posted by Tlogmer at 9:34 PM on May 7, 2005


    From that 1997 salon article discrediting the absurd life expectancy estimate:
    Bennett is a busy man, but even he has access to the back of an envelope. A moment's thought might have suggested a few simple test calculations. Suppose he assumes--wildly pessimistically, given current incidence data--that half the gay male population is destined to catch the AIDS virus and die of it. The actual average age of AIDS patients at death has been about 40. (Presumably protease inhibitors will extend average longevity, but that will only increase Bennett's difficulty.) For the number 43 to be the true average death age for the entire population of gay males, HIV-negative gay men would, on average, have to keel into their graves at 46. Looked at another way, if even half the gay male population stays HIV-negative and lives to an average age of 75, an average overall life span of 43 implies that gay males with AIDS die at an implausibly early average age (11, actually).

    Against this, Cameron and his supporters argue that, according to their survey of obits, even if they don't have AIDS, homosexual males tend to die by their mid-40s (and lesbians by their late 40s). Some downright peculiar results followed from this inference. One is that--contrary to the opinion of virtually everyone else in the world--AIDS in fact hasn't reduced gay males' life expectancy by that much--a few years, at most. Moreover, the obits also recorded lots of violent and accidental deaths. From this Cameron and company concluded not that newsworthy deaths tend to get into newspapers, but that gays must experience shockingly high rates of violent death. With a perfectly straight face they report, for example, that lesbians are at least 300 times more likely to die in car crashes than females of similar ages in general.
    Sorry about the huge quote, but this point is too important (and logically sound) not to pound home.
    posted by Tlogmer at 9:39 PM on May 7, 2005


    Oh, fer chrissakes. I pulled from numerous sources. I never saw the document to which you link.

    Rather than waste my time re-locating the sources, how about you tell me specifically which of those bulleted statistics you take issue with. I will then endeavour to find the webpages again.

    I encourage those who are interested in finding out whether it is I or amberglow who is full of shit, to perform a bit of googling of their own. Most of what I bulleted is dead easy to track back to original source, sources that appear to be trustworthy and authoritative.

    It is you, amberglow, who should be ashamed: you deny that there is an big problem in the homosexual population, which only serves to perpetuate it.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 PM on May 7, 2005


    Having done a bunch more looking around, the lifespan bullet is bogus. All sources trace back to the Cameron study, except one by "Robert S. Hogg et al" which is, I suspect, the same study.

    I can't easily find a US life expectancy statistic that deals specifically with homo/hetero populations. I rather suspect that it's too politically incorrect to report on such a distinction.

    I can find tons of references as to how AIDS is dramatically dropping life expectancies in many countries, and I can find references that indicate that by far the majority of AIDS cases in the USA are homosexuals. Put two and two together and I think it's obvious that the homosexual population has a lower life expectancy than the heterosexual population.

    Alas, I can't find anything real figures.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:55 PM on May 7, 2005


    But the HIV rate among U.S. homosexuals is still only 3% -- AIDS just isn't an epidemic here like it is in africa (though it used to be, 15 years ago, among gay people).

    Even if they died at 40 that would only bring the average down by, what, a couple years (and they're living longer, these days; 40 was the life expectancy before today's treatments).

    By contrast, the HIV rate in some african countries is 50 percent, which is about 17 times that; and they don't have access to medication.

    These are the other statistics that look false to me:
    # As a group, homosexual men are twice as likely to use injection drugs as heterosexual men (12-20% versus 6-9%)
    # As a group, homosexual relationships last two years on average. In the heterosexual population it's ten years.
    posted by Tlogmer at 11:12 PM on May 7, 2005


    Here is something I found from the FDA:

    http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/01/transcripts/3817t2.doc

    Okay, first off, it's several years old. And second off, there's alot of info to wade through. But if you search for the phrase "transmission of infectious agents" that's where the good stuff starts (although the earlier stuff is interesting to read, but it's just more statistics)

    I am not a scientist, but from what I can tell, there has been a shift towards intrauterine inseminations, which require that certains parts of the sperm be washed off. And rather coincedentally, these are the parts of sperm that carry STDS (including HIV). Apparently, in parts of Europe they've been working on a way to take a donation from an HIV positive man, and do a "double wash" to remove all the HIV from the sperm (for couples where one person was infected, but they still wanted to have a child). And while it didn't reduce the risk down to 0%, it only passes on the HIV virus in less than 1% of the babies. (I have no idea what the probability of infecting the baby with HIV is among couples where the man has HIV who do it the old fashioned way.)
    posted by 23skidoo at 11:18 PM on May 7, 2005


    Sounds like another wacky neocon plan to rid the country of gays. Yes, yes, it will never work, but remember, neocons are wacky.
    posted by fleener at 11:33 PM on May 7, 2005


    Bear and amber, I'm not accusing you of being murderers. I am saying that if we do what you seem to be suggesting (allow gay men to donate blood and sperm freely), then innocent people will die. Do you see the difference? You haven't killed anyone, but the consequences of your arguments are very unpleasant.

    I understand your arguments to be that gay men should be allowed to donate fluids in exactly the same way that straights do.... that being gay shouldn't be allowed as a screening question. If that's indeed your argument, then your position will kill people. That is just the truth, whether it's palatable or not. It seems to have made you both angry. I am sorry for that. I did want to shock you a bit and make you think about consequences. I really didn't intend to piss you off to that degree.

    I don't dislike you, I don't think you're evil people, and I don't care who you sleep with or marry. But there are consequences to what you appear to be arguing, and I believe you should think about them carefully. Given those consequences, I don't think it's ethical to keep making that argument, which is why I was so blunt.

    Blood and sperm donations aren't to make YOU feel good, or to serve some vague social engineering purpose. They're to benefit the recipients.

    Fish: Tlogmer's counterpoints are very strong, and they make your statistics seem quite unlikely. Where did you get them?

    23skiddoo: That is interesting.. but without reading your link, which would take awhile, it looks like Devil's numbers would still apply. He assumed a much better detection/rejection rate, 99.99%, but even so, including blood/sperm from the homosexual population about tripled the risk of infection, simply from that population's enormously higher infection rate. With a 99.9% 'cleaning' rate (ten times worse), it would be much safer to omit the sperm from gay men from the donor pool. I imagine there are fewer sperm donations than blood transfusions, so the absolute numbers would be lower, but the tripling of risk should still apply.
    posted by Malor at 11:37 PM on May 7, 2005


    I simply want to give blood to save lives. I'm sick and tired for being attacked for that. If the system doesn't allow for INDIVIDUALS like myself, then the system is only hurting itself.

    I hear you Bear. Had a depressing (and weird) incident with the Red Cross years ago that -- I'm sorry to say -- put me off donating for awhile. Prior to that, had been a card-carrier and was pleased to be helping even just a little.

    So I take my new girlfriend in one day with plans for both of us to give blood -- seemed like a fine thing to do on a sunny day. Bizarre nurse gives us the usual questionnaire forms and then chats with each of us -- and we are turned away. The reason was for violating the "multiple partner in a year" rule (wow, a second girlfriend after I had broken up with the first, 11 months later). Added to which it turns out that my gf was cornered by this crazy nurse who started in with all kinds of "did he make you come here? was it his idea for you to give blood?" (did I just enter David Lynch territory, or do people actually get their kicks by coercing others to give blood?)

    Anyway. Suddenly I can't donate, and I'm pissed. Pissed because:
    a) I could have lied and given blood, and knowing that I've been safe, would have done some good
    b) I know for a fact that I'm far safer than many people who sleep with just one person in a year. Does safe sex (and a responsible partner) count for nothing?

    I felt like I was on the butt-end of some bad statistics, but that if the system doesn't allow for INDIVIDUALS like myself, then the system is only hurting itself. And I shrugged it off (not totally) and didn't donate again. For some time. Stupid, really. Who am I hurting? But I was offended. After all, I simply want to give blood to save lives.

    Now, I'm not mocking you, Bear. I am saying that I understand your anger and I think that putting people in boxes sucks. However. They have to play the odds. They have no choice. I don't care what people say, stats DO apply to individuals when you're an institution putting enough of those individuals through for the patterns to show. We should be (and largely are) arguing the actual stats at this point. The anger, well, that's understandable. But the rules aren't there to offend you or I. That's just an unfortunate side effect.
    posted by dreamsign at 11:42 PM on May 7, 2005


    Ah, fuck. It looks like I balled the drug use stats. Which is, you know, sort of a relief: 6% of hets inject drugs? I hope not.

    Anyway, it was a snippet from the summary that google presents in the links, 'cause the actual report is locked in a pay-for database. Fiddling the search term brings up a different portion of the same paragraph, and it's bisexuals who have twice the injection rate of homosexuals; hets don't enter into it.

    However, the CDC reports that smoking, drinking, and drug use are higher in the GLBT community than the straight community.

    It seems reasonable to conclude that injection drug use is higher in the homosexual population, though I can't find an actual figure on it.
    The length-of-relationship and number-of-partners stuff is all over the web. I grabbed the most-used figures, but there were others that indicated a similar disparity. It's getting very late, and I'm not going to go hunt 'em down.
    And now: I apologize. I thought I'd done a decent job of finding real facts. I am very disappointed that the CDC and its ilk are not publishing real statistics on these things, and that real information is not a helluva lot easier to find than having to wade through a shitflood of religious-right rants.

    Y'know, it was that kind of day all around. I should have just stayed in bed.
    posted by five fresh fish at 12:05 AM on May 8, 2005


    Malor: Well, it's not a tripling, it's a 30-tipling, but yeah, I understand all the math behind it. His 99.99% detection rate was pulled out of his butt, and is irrelevant to his argument. If the detection rate was 90% (or 50% or 11%), fluids from a random gay male donor would still be 30 times more likely to have HIV than fluids from a random straight male donor.

    Is the detection rate really 99.99%? I have no idea. The point of my .doc file was that there exists a procudure now which majorly reduces ability of HIV donated sperm to infect the fetus with HIV. And it's a procedure which will probably be done anyway, to prepare the sperm for an intrauterine insemination, so it's not an added cost.

    Is it totally perfect? No, but the procedure is out there, it's (probably, well hopefully) being perfected, to the point where it may be more cost effective (and less deadly) to just wash the samples rather than test them.
    posted by 23skidoo at 12:06 AM on May 8, 2005


    It is you, amberglow, who should be ashamed: you deny that there is an big problem in the homosexual population, which only serves to perpetuate it.

    LALALALALALALALA! GAYS ARE MURDERERS! LALALALALALA!
    posted by AlexReynolds at 12:15 AM on May 8, 2005


    It seems reasonable to conclude that injection drug use is higher in the homosexual population, though I can't find an actual figure on it.

    I agree, but the specifics make a difference in these things.

    The length-of-relationship and number-of-partners stuff is all over the web. I grabbed the most-used figures, but there were others that indicated a similar disparity. It's getting very late, and I'm not going to go hunt 'em down.

    Fair enough. I think gay men almost certainly have more partners, but the question is how many more. I've seen insane numbers bandied about (1000 partners per year, for example); again, the specifics matter.
    posted by Tlogmer at 2:16 AM on May 8, 2005


    Both sperm donation and blood donation should allow people who have had negative HIV tests and only monogamous relationships since to donate. There is NO higher risk of HIV infection with anal intercourse versus vaginal intercourse, when both people are HIV-negative. HIV does not spontaneously generate in the santorum.

    Making the requirement to be monogamy since last negative test, for all kinds of sex, would be much safer, and not discriminate by the gender of the partner.

    I once had unprotected straight sex. I should not have been allowed to donate, however I was. I happened to know I was safe, because I have been HIV tested several times since (my gyny clinic used to do it for every yearly exam - good public service from the Toronto Women's College Hospital). But there was no way for either the Canadian Blood Service or the American blood service to know that I was safe. But it was straight sex, so that was okay.

    What if people lie about their monogamy, even if they bring proof of their negative HIV test? Well, who's to say that people don't already lie? It's very easy to, and in the states some places even pay for blood. You would still need to keep testing.

    But right now, the way things are going, it isn't just about discrimination. With blood it is very serious - blood donors are aging and they are not finding replacements. I cannot donate now because I have been in the UK, despite that fact that by the time I went the standards in the beef industry are higher than anywhere in North America. If I had eaten beef in the 1980s, perhaps I would have been at risk, albeit a risk of about 100 people sick in a population of 50 000 000. But even if you are vegetarian who has visited the UK, you are not allowed to donate. This is over-screening.

    And it is loosing them donors. I can't donate, won't get into the habit of donating, and won't even know if they change the rules.

    If they exclude gay men in monogamous relationships, who as a group pose extremely little risk, they are just alienating more of those precious donors for no appreciable increase in safety. If they would lie about monogamy, what is to stop them from lying about being gay in the first place? The vast majority of donors are honest and just want to help. Trust me, I'm lambasted with guilt-tripping blood drives every few months, and I have to pass them by, every time.

    This is about the recipients - but without donors, those recipients won't get HIV, but they will die.
    posted by jb at 9:05 AM on May 8, 2005


    AlexReynolds, that was loopy nutso. I say there is a problem in the gay culture: as a whole, homosexuals engage in high-risk behaviours far more frequently than is healthy. You're response: Gays are murders, lalala. WTF? Get a grip!

    jb: it's a cost-benefit accounting. When the Red Cross gets desperate for blood, it'll change the rules and do whatever it takes to test product more thoroughly.

    Though the whole thing may be mooted soon: several biotechs are tweaking blood replacements, and several more are working on blood fractionation. The former eliminates all risk of disease; I think the process of the latter may do the same.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 AM on May 8, 2005


    "You're response"? Ah, hell, it looks like another one of those days. Sigh.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:33 AM on May 8, 2005


    Well, put this in your pipe and smoke it: Many gay men lie and donate anyway, knowing that the good they're doing outweighs the prejudice against them, and knowing that their blood is not at all a danger to anyone.

    Also, you folk really need to understand that the same arguments you make here about one group have been made about other groups in the past--most notably black men--to horrible effect. Think about it a little, if you possibly can. From this thread, i don't think most of you are capable, frankly.
    posted by amberglow at 9:57 AM on May 8, 2005


    ...same arguments you make here about one group have been made about other groups in the past--most notably black men--to horrible effect.

    As a product of racism or the response to medical statistics and data?
    posted by Witty at 10:26 AM on May 8, 2005


    But there's still no answer to the question of whether or not there's a frequency of contamination directly caused by homosexual donators OR if this is just a paranoid reaction to statistics.

    What I mean to ask is:
    Has the FDA encountered frequent contamination of fluid banks? Can they directly trace this contamination to homosexual donors?
    OR
    Is this just preemption?

    If the FDA can come up with statistics that show that donations by homosexuals actually cause a real problem, then I'll go along with the ban. I won't like it. But my attitude would become one of "Well, that's a shame but they've gotta do what they've gotta do."

    HOWEVER, if there's no problem occurring and they're just using a statistic out of fear/ignorance/bias, then that's really quite wrong and I'm not willing to stand for that.

    Y'know what I mean? Is that 3% of the gay population actively trying to donate their blood/sperm? Is that entire 3% unaware that they have HIV?

    If it turns out that of the 3%, 2.5% are being treated for HIV and don't donate blood, then the idea of banning the entire community (based on the marginal fraction of the unknowing infected) is completely ludicrous and reactionary.

    Do you really think that the people who are civic-minded enough to make blood donations aren't also socially responsible enough to take advantage of the free community clinics?
    posted by Jon-o at 11:41 AM on May 8, 2005


    How can you account for people who don't know that they have HIV? Doesn't 3% refer to the number of people who are known to have it?
    posted by 23skidoo at 11:49 AM on May 8, 2005


    There is NO higher risk of HIV infection with anal intercourse versus vaginal intercourse, when both people are HIV-negative.

    This is old thinking. The whole premise behind safe sex is that you can't ever know for certain that someone's HIV-negative; it should be the premise behind blood donation as well.

    I'm afraid I'm still with FFF (not counting stats). There still is a much higher rate of HIV infection among gay people. This is a bigger problem than anything that has to do with the red cross.



    I mean, shit. And that's not even per capita -- you have to multiply the height of the "male-to-male" bar by five. It's still a small fraction of the gay population, but it's a much, much larger fraction than it should be.
    posted by Tlogmer at 12:34 PM on May 8, 2005


    Why are you willing to accept the increased risk from slutty straight people donating blood and sperm, given that all blood and sperm is tested, but not willing to accept the same from gay men?
    posted by amberglow at 1:34 PM on May 8, 2005


    Who said that they are? No one said that? Assuming that "slutty straight person" tells the truth, then he/she will be denied.
    posted by Witty at 1:42 PM on May 8, 2005


    Amberglow, do you deny that STDs are endemic in the homosexual population?
    posted by five fresh fish at 1:46 PM on May 8, 2005


    Endemic? I think you mean "epidemic", which is an overstatement. But the levels are higher than they should be, and they're high enough for this ban to be reasonable (considering Red Cross's limited finances).
    posted by Tlogmer at 1:51 PM on May 8, 2005


    Or possibly you mean pandemic, which is an even greater overstatement.
    posted by Tlogmer at 1:53 PM on May 8, 2005


    Why are you willing to accept the increased risk from slutty straight people donating blood and sperm, given that all blood and sperm is tested, but not willing to accept the same from gay men?

    If I was in charge, I'd probably do things differently; blanket statements equivalent to "are you gay" rub me the wrong way. I'd probably ask detailed questions about number of partners, geographic location of partners, well-known-ness of partners, etc., and feed it through a complex computer model, but it's understandable that the Red Cross doesn't feel like doing that. (Gay guys do have more sex than straight guys, with more people, on average. Not because they're gay, but because they're all men; women are the sexual bottleneck in the hetero system.)

    But the red cross decision is reasonable, considering the HIV levels among gay people, and makes as much sense as their other screening questions.
    posted by Tlogmer at 1:58 PM on May 8, 2005


    I dunno. I've been seeing stats like 1 in 4 hets will be infected with an STD, and 3 in 4 homos. Disease rates are on the increase, especially in youth and homeless. So it's definitely an epidemic, and it may be endemic in that so many of the population are carriers that it self-perpetuates.

    I gotta apologize for the clumsy postings in this thread. My head is spinning and I'm finding it very difficult to concentrate.
    posted by five fresh fish at 2:09 PM on May 8, 2005


    Get over it. It's a reasonable decision. Gays deserve equal protection under the law, but not a blind eye. GET OVER IT.
    posted by ParisParamus at 2:11 PM on May 8, 2005


    1 in 4 hets will be infected with an STD, and 3 in 4 homos

    Many STDs (syphillis, gonnorhea, etc) are curable; if 3-in-4 have an STD at some point in their lifetime, the number who have an STD at any given point could be much smaller. (And your track record with stats on this isn't great.)

    I think the canadian study I linked earlier has a section on this; I'll look it up later tonight.
    posted by Tlogmer at 2:52 PM on May 8, 2005


    I gotta apologize

    About fucking time, fff. You've been surprisingly, hilariously horrible in this thread - a walking advertisement for moronic, ill-conceived, "quick-google" posting. I was shocked, really, to see your username at the bottom of a post with "upwards of three-quarters of homosexual men carry an STD" without a cite.

    I do believe that post was the low point of your Mefi career, fff - at least as I've experienced it. Congrats.
    posted by mediareport at 11:42 AM on May 9, 2005


    How gracious you are.
    posted by five fresh fish at 2:36 PM on May 9, 2005


    STDs up among gay men. It is to cry.

    However shitty my so-called statistics were, the fact is that STDs run rampant through the homosexual community and are on the rise. I defy you to find evidence otherwise.

    And while I've not bothered to find support for this idea, I'm sure someone far brighter than I has stated it more eloquently: the problem is deeply rooted in society's attitudes toward homosexuality, and the burden must be shared both by the homosexual community (which needs to insist on safe sex practices) and the heterosexual community (which needs to support gays in holding stable, long-term monogamous relationships.)

    I find those of you who are insisting that there's no problem to be really creepy. Dozens of gay-positive websites agree with the gist of what I've said, yet you insist that it just isn't true?! WTF?
    posted by five fresh fish at 2:52 PM on May 9, 2005


    HIV Infections Among MSM in Canada:
  • It is estimated that around 15% of Montreal’s MSM are currently HIV infected. Results from the Montreal Omega Cohort Study indicate that 12% of MSM practice UAI with casual partners.
  • the prevalence of reported UAI was 12% among MSM recruited in bars or saunas, but was up to 21-24% among MSM who were HIV-positive.
  • available data indicate that 10% of the Montreal cohort and 26-30% of the Vancouver cohort who reported safe sex at baseline, disclosed relapse to unprotected anal sex at follow-up six to twelve months later.
  • 56% of HIV-positive men and 40% of HIV-negative men reported having engaged in receptive UAI during the previous 6 months or year.
  • For men in Montreal, having a casual partner and having at least two regular partners in the previous year were independently associated with high-risk sexual behaviour.
  • Preliminary data for 1999-2000 show increased reports of rectal gonorrhea among adult males in Toronto and Ottawa compared to earlier years, and a potential outbreak of syphilis among MSM in Calgary. These data suggest increases in unprotected sexual encounters among MSM.
  • Tell me again I'm full of shit, okay?
    posted by five fresh fish at 2:58 PM on May 9, 2005


    Ok, work with me here, fff. Where do they get the samples from which those stats are taken? How do the folks doing those studies find a representative sample of gay men who aren't already in the health care system? In other words, how were those "cohorts" recruited? Have you ever bothered thinking about the sampling issues involved in finding a representative sample of gay or lesbian people? Obviously not.

    In short, you're being a fool. No one denies that STDs are a serious problem in sexually promiscuous groups, that some gay men have historically been very promiscuous, and that there seems to be a big resurgence in STDs in some gay populations. But you're not stopping there. You're making a blanket statement about "gay men" based on evidence that is questionable at best for the entire gay male population, which has *never* been representatively sampled.
    posted by mediareport at 4:38 PM on May 9, 2005


    Whatever. While my health care costs will probably rise because STDs are on the rise, it won't be my dick that's dropping off. Enjoy yourselves, and believe what you wish about the magnitude of the problem.
    posted by five fresh fish at 4:58 PM on May 9, 2005


    Nice, fff. You can't respond to the specific argument I raised (which pretty much demolishes your overgeneralizations), so lump all of us together yet again, while encouraging us to enjoy ourselves as we spread disease to each other.

    Congratulations again. You just reached a new low.
    posted by mediareport at 5:00 PM on May 9, 2005


    No, it's that I pretty much don't give a flying fuck any more.

    Endless gay support sites, health care sites, and disease control sites repeatedlyand authoritatively state that STDs are skyrocketing in the homosexual community, that safe sex practices are on the decline, and that this is becoming a dire situation that sure as fuck requires attention.

    So fuck it. You want to keep your head lodged up your ass, go right ahead. I'm going to put my trust in what dozens upon dozens of experts are saying, not what some idiot on MeFi says.

    Here's hoping you have a single, disease-free life partner, man, because with your dipshit attitude, that's what's it gonna take for you to stay clean.

    I'm outta this thread.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:31 PM on May 9, 2005


    About fucking time. You're walking a thin rhetorical line, citing bad statistics, and pissing off people with langauge that skirts with bigotry ("Enjoy yourselves, and believe what you wish about the magnitude of the problem"). I agree with you that there's a problem, but you're certainly not helping things. There are lots of potential ways to reduce the stats, but having a straight guy come in and cite life expectancy estimates that wrong by at least 2 decades isn't one of them.

    It is estimated that around 15% of Montreal’s MSM are currently HIV infected.

    Right there we know that it's not a representative sample, because only 3 percent of american gay people are infected with HIV. (HIV is always more common in large cities.) The stats from my link (should have gone through them before) show that only 15 percent of gay canadians have ever had an STD, and only 5 percent have one now (3 percent, presumably, have HIV, and 2 have something else).

    In short, you're full of shit. The fight for desease prevention deserves better.
    posted by Tlogmer at 10:07 PM on May 9, 2005


    Endless gay support sites, health care sites, and disease control sites repeatedlyand authoritatively state that STDs are skyrocketing in the homosexual community, that safe sex practices are on the decline, and that this is becoming a dire situation that sure as fuck requires attention.

    To clarify: I think everything in that paragraph is true. But there's "shit, people are dying" dire and there's "holy fuck, we're all going to die" dire. You seem to think it's the latter when in fact, HIV and STD stats are low enough that they don't exert much pull on life expectancy. We're talking about small minorities -- too large, but still small.

    This is a vital distinction. I don't want people thinking I'm disease-ridden; your attitude ensures they will.
    posted by Tlogmer at 10:12 PM on May 9, 2005


    five fresh fish... you gave it your best shot. But it's no surprise that minorities don't like to listen to truth -slash- constructive criticism from the majority. Everything is "offensive" and that's why nothing ever gets accomplished.
    posted by Witty at 12:16 PM on May 10, 2005


    Truth? FFF repeatedly cited statistics that were total, total bullshit. He screamed at us, effectively said, "you're all dying of AIDS". His view of the problem is totally warped; it bears so little resemblence to reality.

    So ... witty ... you know that conservatives score 60 points lower on IQ tests than liberals, right? That's what google says, at least.

    How's that one feel?
    posted by Tlogmer at 1:39 PM on May 10, 2005


    If you say so. I'm somewhere in the middle anyway, in case that was a stab at me. Shady statistics aside, or whatever you want to call it, there are bigger issues within the gay community that need to be addressed, simple as that. You can ignore them in order to serve your argument for outrage over blood donation, or you can admit to them and move forward.

    My point is, unless you're gay, you're not allowed to be critical of homosexuals, unless you're happy with being labeled a bigot or whatever. Same shit happens with blacks and other minorities. There's only so much us straight white people can do for everybody. Not every hole can be patched with legislation, policy, money and "awareness".

    Lower the HIV count within the gay community and your problem (along with many others) are solved. Ranting and arguing over statistical accuracy, blah blah blah doesn't do ANYthing to fix it. Fudging the numbers isn't the way to get back on the list of acceptable donors.
    posted by Witty at 1:54 PM on May 10, 2005


    oh, we had no idea that's what we had to do--what would we do without you, Witty? /sarcasm
    posted by amberglow at 2:09 PM on May 10, 2005


    See? Exactly my point.

    Why don't you just y'all gays get together and set up your own gay blood bank. Will that work for you?
    posted by Witty at 2:17 PM on May 10, 2005


    Why don't you read up on HIV and STD prevention? Why don't you learn that we invented HIV prevention in America when nobody gave a shit? Why don't you learn just how few gay men are infected, and how much higher the rate of infection used to be? Why don't you stop talking out of your ass, Witty?
    posted by amberglow at 2:19 PM on May 10, 2005


    Well apparently you haven't made enough progress... as the Red Cross will not allow you to donate blood.

    Why don't you read up on HIV and STD prevention?

    Why? I'm good to go, thanks!

    Why don't you learn that we invented HIV prevention in America when nobody gave a shit?

    Ooohh... Congrats. And yet, people of your sexual orientation still have the highest rate of infection. Weird.

    Why don't you learn just how few gay men are infected, and how much higher the rate of infection used to be?

    Has anyone denied the strides homosexuals have made in the last 20 years? No. But it looks as though more progress is going to be necessary. Am I wrong?

    Why don't you stop talking out of your ass, Witty?

    Why don't you stop THINKING about my ass. Eww.
    posted by Witty at 2:26 PM on May 10, 2005


    Wow. I actually agree with FFF. Yes, your ass, EWW.

    This is a perfectly reasonable decision on the part of a government agency. No one's rights are being infringed.

    Moreover, I invite anyone seeking a sperm donation to specifically chose a gay donor--it's a free country.

    PS: another reason to avoid gay donations is to minimize the risk that one's child will be gay--and that's a perfectly reasonable aspiration.
    posted by ParisParamus at 3:09 PM on May 10, 2005


    Well apparently you haven't made enough progress... as the Red Cross will not allow you to donate blood.

    We are in agreement on that (you and I, at least). My point is that by coming in as an outsider, and quoting absurdly bad (and rather insulting) statistics, you're going to hurt the situation more than help it. By being a bigoted douchebag ("stop thinking about my ass!"), you're alienating anyone you might have convinced.

    You're making my argument -- that most gay people do not have STDs, but that too many (5%) do -- that much more difficult.

    PS: another reason to avoid gay donations is to minimize the risk that one's child will be gay--and that's a perfectly reasonable aspiration.

    People can already decide who to recieve sperm from -- they can decide they only want sperm from light-skinned, brown-eyed straight guys if they so choose. That's different from government guidelines forbidding any gay person from donating sperm. (I agree with those guidelines, if they're there for health reasons. But not for any other reason.)
    posted by Tlogmer at 5:57 PM on May 10, 2005


    Michael Bérubé: WASHINGTON—White House press secretary Scott McClellan said today that President Bush would soon unveil a revised plan for saving Social Security, one that ties the concept of “progressive indexing” to the Food and Drug Administration’s recent ruling that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years should be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor.

    Under the new plan, an individual’s Social Security eligibility would be calibrated on a sliding scale which establishes an inverse relation between qualifying for future Social Security benefits and participating in anal sex.
    posted by amberglow at 7:55 PM on May 10, 2005


    By being a bigoted douchebag ("stop thinking about my ass!"), you're alienating anyone you might have convinced.

    Convincing these assholes isn't possible. I'm straight, they're gay and that's that. (I'm sorry you didn't like my comeback... made me laugh anyway.)

    Oh, and I hate gays too... for I, am a bigoted douchebag.
    posted by Witty at 9:59 AM on May 11, 2005


    Man, it's a good thing you can't lie on those questionaires isn't it? Otherwise the whole issue would be moot.

    Um...there is some sort of 'anti-gay' test to give blood isn't there?
    posted by Smedleyman at 1:45 PM on May 11, 2005


    Lying is a sin.
    posted by Witty at 2:00 PM on May 11, 2005


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