I just came in for a case of Blood Lite
November 30, 2011 3:03 AM   Subscribe

What if anyone in need of blood could find it anywhere? Based on this question, Hospital Albert Einstein created an innovative way to make people aware of the need for blood donations. They placed blood bags in refrigerators of several convenience stores throughout São Paulo. The customers were amazed to find them beside sodas and sandwiches. Their reactions were filmed.
posted by twoleftfeet (47 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The reaction seems to be more like, "Look at this, he's got out-of-date blood on the shelves. Again. I don't know why I shop here."
posted by three blind mice at 3:38 AM on November 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah, like "no WAY I'm getting anything from this fridge", but no, not all were like this. They included some positive reactions, especially towards the end.
posted by hat_eater at 4:08 AM on November 30, 2011

I like the guy who took one out and looked like he was going to buy.

Which reminds me, it's really about time I gave some blood again and whoever gets it is going to get a major coffee buzz, I swear. I can barely see straight for the vibrating in my brain. Yeehaw.

Blood Type: AB+
posted by Skygazer at 4:40 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's a pretty clever way of advertising the need for blood, I'll give them that, even if it turns some people off. It's not like this happened in every supermarket, the video is part of the advertising. It also reminds me I have to go donate again as they're always running low around here. So hey, it works.

Blood type: A+
posted by dabitch at 4:52 AM on November 30, 2011

The Australian Red Cross discriminates against men who sleep with men. Unless you're donating to yourself prior to scheduled surgery, you've got not choice in Australia but to use the Red Cross. And if you sleep with men, they won't have you. I find it offensive and homophobic.

I've had to have many transfusions over the years and I'd have been very, very happy to have gay blood coursing through my corpuscles. Fucking Red Cross.

Oh yeah, great ad. Fascinating that it's a private hospital. We have socialised health here, I forget hospitals can do that kind of thing. Amazing.

Also...one guy was totally going to buy one. What the?
posted by taff at 4:59 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I donate double red blood cells every four months, I'll keep doing that as long as I'm eligible. My mom was the director of the blood program for the Red Cross in my home county in NJ for many years so it's a sort of a legacy.

Taff, I don't know about Australia but in the US, the rules about who can donate are set by the government, not the Red Cross.

posted by octothorpe at 5:08 AM on November 30, 2011

There are times when I feel like the blood bank has me on speed dial.

posted by JujuB at 5:11 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Our grocery stores do actually sell blood, for soup. Not human blood, though.

posted by Houstonian at 5:19 AM on November 30, 2011

As one of the millions of blood pariahs in my country whose blood has been deemed permanently tainted by faggotry, I always have to just shrug at the calls for blood and move on to the next subject. My license is marked 'donor,' so I peeled the rainbow off my car so my good bits won't go in the bin should I go sideways into a tree.

That said, I think this is a decent eye opener for them what can.
posted by sonascope at 5:41 AM on November 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Neat ad, and really like the pointer to adsoftheworld.com.

I'd donate in a heartbeat but yeah, another fag here. It's still stunning to me I'd have to lie to donate blood when straight folks who've had tons of much more recent unprotected sex are allowed; I'd do it in a heartbeat. On preview, it never occurred to me that my "donor" choice wouldn't be honored if it was known I was gay. Crap.
posted by mediareport at 5:47 AM on November 30, 2011

Wouldn't this ad cause the opposite of its' intention? Look, they have so much blood they sell it at the corner store now. No need to donate any more.

I would totally buy one for funsies.
posted by fungible at 5:52 AM on November 30, 2011

The Australian Red Cross discriminates against men who sleep with men.

As one of the millions of blood pariahs in my country whose blood has been deemed permanently tainted by faggotry,

C'mon guys. Let's not do the climate change denial thing and force politics to ignore science. There is ONE reason and one reason alone why males who have sex with males (MSM) do not qualify as blood donors:

Gay and bisexual men — referred to in CDC surveillance systems as men who have sex with men (MSM)1 — of all races continue to be the risk group most severely affected by HIV. CDC’s most recent data show that between 2006 and 2009, the number of new infections that occur each year increased among young MSM — driven by an alarming 48 percent increase among young, black MSM 13 to 29 years old. These data clearly show the urgent need to expand access to proven HIV prevention programs for gay and bisexual men, and to develop new approaches to fight HIV in this population. (pdf from the CDC).

From the CDC report:

MSM account for nearly half of the approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States (49%, or an estimated 580,000 total persons).

MSM account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the United States each year (61%, or an estimated 29,300 infections).

While CDC estimates that only 4 percent of men in the United States are MSM, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM in the United States is more than 44 times that of other men (range: 522 – 989 per 100,000 MSM vs. 12 per 100,000 other men).
(emphasis added)
posted by three blind mice at 5:53 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

But they don't take individual history into account at all, Three Blind Mice Take me, for instance. I sucked one dick back in '03 (and I've had two routine HIV screenings since then, both negative) and when I asked the Red Cross if I was disqualified on that basis they said yes. In fact, the lady who I spoke to about it said that even if I'd just given the man a handjob I would still be disqualified because "I could've had a hangnail or something".

Whereas absent that one encounter, I could've been hanging out in the orgy room down at the local swingers' club every weekend for the last ten years, and the Red Cross wouldn't give a crap. If you didn't pay for it and it wasn't with a dude, they don't care.

It's absurd, and it's homophobic, and they badly need to update their rules.
posted by Scientist at 6:13 AM on November 30, 2011 [11 favorites]

...Three Blind Mice. Take me...
posted by Scientist at 6:14 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I rebutt you, Three Refusing To See Mice.
posted by taff at 6:15 AM on November 30, 2011

And I'll say it again....I have had MANY blood transfusions and I would be absolutely comfortable having a transfusion of the appropriately tested blood from a man who had sex with a man or a woman who has had sex with a man who has sex with man. Absolutely utterly happy to have it.
posted by taff at 6:19 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

(the post is about blood donation, so I'm assuming the gay thing isn't a derail)

You left out this part, three blind mice:

Gay and bisexual men of all races and black heterosexuals account for the greatest number of new HIV infections in the United States.

And yet, for some reason, black heterosexuals (whose rates of infection are also far larger than their share of the population would suggest) aren't denied the choice to donate.

Why is that?

Just to be clear, taff's rebuttal notes that the tests used have narrowed the window period between infection and detectability to just a couple of weeks.
posted by mediareport at 6:19 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

It would be interesting to see some data on MSM who have never had unprotected anal sex, which is after all the main vector for HIV transmission. (Of course, there are also MSM who have never had anal sex at all, which according to most sources places their HIV risk from sex in the "theoretical" category.)
posted by en forme de poire at 6:29 AM on November 30, 2011

It's absurd, and it's homophobic, and they badly need to update their rules.

I discuss this with every tech I talk to during the pre-donation screening. Most recognize it's homophobic but that's the rules, they just take you at you word, wink wink. Some are outright homophobes and defend the rule strenuously.

I a few years ago I tried to get a copy of the screening questionnaire from my local hospital where I gave. I had to ask five different department heads before I could get them to part with one. It's like they were ashamed or something.
posted by clarknova at 6:36 AM on November 30, 2011

three blind mice, those statistics are completely true -- and also have absolutely no qualifiers about their statistical significance when applied to the population at large.

Ignoring other factors, let's crunch the numbers:
- CDC claims 2% of population qualify as "MSM" or "men who have sex with men." Seems low to me, but I'll take it.
- CDC claims 1.2 million people have a HIV infection in the US
- US population is roughly 308 million, give or take a few
- This means the CDC believes there are about 6 million MSM in the US
- CDC claims 61% of new infections are in MSM. I'll throw out a few percentage points for a few reasons -- let's say that 70% of existing infections.
- This means that ~840K of the 1.2 million people infected are MSM -- over 2/3?

This seems incredibly high! Maybe we have a reason to be worried. However, doesn't that 2% figure seem really small?

I'm not sure where the CDC figure of 2% comes from. This Gallup article attributes that figure to the "Family Research Report." The only reference I found to this on the web was the Family Research Institute. Note that the founder has been dropped by the American Psychological Association due to ethical issues, and that the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the institute as a hate group.

Nope, nothing fishy here.
posted by mikeh at 6:37 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

IT'S THE FDA THAT MAKES THE RULES ABOUT MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN, NOT THE RED CROSS. Most people within the Red Cross think these rules are silly and would like them changed. (Either that or my mother, who works for them, is lying to me.)
posted by madcaptenor at 7:07 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah I am pretty sure if they want a huge jump in blood donations they'd stop playing political games with bad science. It would be hard to find a more community-minded group than queers (in general) so I reckon there'd be a huge jump in dotations if they'd just open the damn doors already. Beggars, choosers, etc.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:10 AM on November 30, 2011

I don't know about the Australian Red Cross, but I do know that the American Red Cross is restricted from using MSM blood by the FDA.
posted by lizjohn at 7:10 AM on November 30, 2011

I should have previewed. Thanks madcaptenor!
posted by lizjohn at 7:12 AM on November 30, 2011

For those interested in the gay blood debate, I remember this ask thread to be particularly interesting. It has lots of relevant links. The first 3/4 mainly discusses the ARC and the ethics of lying and the end of the thread discusses the Australian Red Cross.
posted by lizjohn at 7:27 AM on November 30, 2011

- This means the CDC believes there are about 6 million MSM in the US

2% is too low. Obviously. 12-15% of the population homosexual, so let's say half are male and then round off to 5% to make the math easy. So that means 15 MSM in the US which would make the percentage of MSM responsible for new infections even higher then the 2/3rds calculated above.

Nope, nothing fishy here.

The Red Cross/FDA does not have a similar policy towards women who have sex with women so the blanket charge of a bias against homosexuals would seem unfair.

It is good and right and proper to challenge these rules on the suspicion that there are non-scientific reasons for them, but that sort of presupposes that one must accept the results of science no matter how inconvenient the truth. The inconvenient truth seems to be that there is some statistical benefit to excluding MSM donors from the blood supply.

The focus of ire should be on those grim statistics of HIV infection amongst MSM population which seem as unchangeable as - and sadly much higher than - Mitt Romney's poll numbers.
posted by three blind mice at 7:56 AM on November 30, 2011

There are times when I feel like the blood bank has me on speed dial.

I sympathize; I'm also O+. They love us.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:38 AM on November 30, 2011

AB- Canadian Blood Services told me they would track me down wherever I lived. I don't really understand that though, because although I am the rarest blood type, I am also the only type that is not really necessary. Anyone who can take my blood can also take A- or B-. Being pregnant means I can't donate for however long, so I don't get calls any more. I know that the day I'm eligible, they'll be booking me in.

I'm the universal recipient, which is lucky for me.

Just to repeat - it's not the Red Cross (or Canadian Blood Services here) who sets the "no MSM rule" although I do wish they would stand up and oppose it. I'm a gay woman and so part of me wants to opt out of donating to a homophobic system, but I realize that the patients needing blood would ultimately pay for that and I don't want to misdirect my anger that way. All blood is tested for HIV. They don't discriminate against hyper-promiscuous risky heteros, or other specifically high-risk groups as a matter of course. This is seems to be a pretty clear-cut "gay blood is tainted" thing to me.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:26 AM on November 30, 2011

three blind mice, you reversed the math.

The CDC facts, as I did some rounding-off, would imply 840k/1.2M "men who have sex with men" are HIV-positive. If their number of total people is way low, as we agree, then even at 5% that means there are at least 15 million men who qualify.

In other words, even if every single person with a HIV infection in the US is a man who has sex with other men, then 14/15 of these men do not have HIV. They're claiming it's 15/16 for heterosexual black men.
posted by mikeh at 9:32 AM on November 30, 2011

Also, I flubbed the original - 2% of the US population would be 12 million. Even the CDC is implying 1 in 12.
posted by mikeh at 9:33 AM on November 30, 2011

Gah, 6 million! I give up my calculator-using rights to someone more reasonable.
posted by mikeh at 9:34 AM on November 30, 2011

Urgh. Of course the rule banning gay* men from donating blood is silly. Gay men are at a much higher risk of HIV than the general population, but a mandatory waiting period would solve the problem.

The problem is that the one time an HIV-infected gay male donates blood, and it slips through the cracks in the testing system to infect (say) a cute little girl, heads will roll. So no one wants to make that decision.

* Scientists use the term MSM because a whole lot of men will say they sleep with men on a survey, but won't check a box saying they're gay. It's way easier to just say "gay" though.
posted by miyabo at 9:56 AM on November 30, 2011

MikeH, it's "new" HIV infections, not total HIV infections. I don't know what the standard for "new" is but I'm guessing that it makes the numbers more sensible.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:02 AM on November 30, 2011

I'd like to add that, at least the American Red Cross (possibly due to changes from fda?) they changed one of the female only survey questions from (paraphrased) "Have you had sex, even once, with a man who has sex with another man since 1977" to "In the last 6 months, have you had sex with a man who has ever had sex with another man?"

arcticwoman - while it's true that you are (almost) a universal recipient (AB+ would be able to receive all blood types), whenever possible, it's preferable to give transfusions of the recipients blood type. The universal donor blood (O-) is given in cases of trauma and emergency. If you were to say, have surgery, you would get your blood type. According to wikipedia, AB- accounts for .5% of blood types in Canada. You are rare, indeed!

I hope you continue to donate blood when you are eligible again. From when I was a child I have very vivid memories of going with my dad to a community center and watching with wide eyes as he donated blood. It left a deep impression on me.
posted by lizjohn at 10:10 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ah, of course one's own type is preferable. Makes sense. And thanks for correcting my error - AB+ is the universal receiver. Good thing, too, they are much more numerous. :)

I do plan on continuing to donate blood. It's important to me and I hope to model good citizenship. It's nice to know that your dad doing this had a effect on you - I hope the same for my kid.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:19 AM on November 30, 2011

C'mon guys. Let's not do the climate change denial thing and force politics to ignore science

Let me tell you a bit about this alleged "science". When I was pre-op and had "male"listed on my driver's license I was unable to give blood according to these scientific rules because I had sex with men. But after I became post-op my scientifically decided status changed and I was able to give blood again

If it was science then everyone's blood would simply be tested for HIV prior to donation and a person's status of being able to give or not give would be based on that. It's not fucking science (or even science about fucking) - it's politics and it's religion and it's prejudice pure and simple.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:31 AM on November 30, 2011 [10 favorites]

Using epidemiological data to determine who should donate blood is not crazy. Even the newest tests have false negatives, and even a small false negative proportion could lead to an increase in infection given the massive scale of blood banks.

What is more crazy is that nobody seems to be collecting data on prevalence specifically for MSM who practice safer sex (i.e. using condoms for anal sex). Using a condom is estimated to provide a 20-fold reduction in per-act risk of HIV. That's huge. Yet the CDC doesn't seem to differentiate between high- and low-risk subpopulations of MSM, even though they already stratify heterosexuals into those with known risk factors and those without (i.e., have they had sex with an MSM or IV drug user).
posted by en forme de poire at 11:57 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

If I saw this, I'd think, "Hm, which of the workers here is a vampire?"

What, no vampire jokes yet?
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:33 PM on November 30, 2011

I'd be happy with, "Have you had unprotected sex with someone who has has unprotected sex with a person of unknown or positive HIV or Hep b/c status in the last 8 weeks?"

What's so hard about that?
posted by taff at 12:47 PM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

If all this is so worrying to some folks (and I'm not particularly worried,) then why not require that any individual opting for surgery be required to donate at least 2 pints in preparation. That would alleviate some of the emergency demand and put unused blood from 'unquestionable' individuals who wouldn't normally donate into the system. I've been voted off the donation island because of the drugs I take, but my suggestion to bank blood for three of my surgeries was declined. Fortunately, I didn't need any, but...
posted by BlueHorse at 1:29 PM on November 30, 2011

Maybe we should set up our own "ad display" in a convenience store -- one with labels that say "If the Red Cross (and FDA) didn't discriminate against our blood, this would be available for your sick and injured friends and family" - your gay brothers
posted by Surfurrus at 1:52 PM on November 30, 2011

I'm surprised that the conversation so quickly centered around "gay guys can't donate", when the truly alarming thing is that the American Red Cross may not let you donate if you lived in or visited the United Kingdom or Europe for a total time of 3-6 months since January 1, 1980.

Smelly Europeans.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:13 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's weird to me they take the word of ANY donor on their sexual history. Do we seriously believe everyone's been telling the truth? That no donors lied or forgot a partner -- that no gay blood has made it into the supply and into 100% straight veins? Rely on the blood tests.
posted by frenetic at 7:47 PM on November 30, 2011

the American Red Cross may not let you donate if you lived in or visited the United Kingdom or Europe for a total time of 3-6 months since January 1, 1980.

It's a little more complicated than that - here's a more detailed explanation from the main Red Cross site:

At this time, the American Red Cross donor eligibility rules related to vCJD are as follows:
You are not eligible to donate if:

From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in the United Kingdom (UK), or
From January 1, 1980, to present, you had a blood transfusion in any country(ies) in the (UK). The UK includes any of the countries listed below.

Channel Islands
Falkland Islands
Isle of Man
Northern Ireland

You were a member of the of the U.S. military, a civilian military employee, or a dependent of a member of the U.S. military who spent a total time of 6 months on or associated with a military base in any of the following areas during the specified time frames

From 1980 through 1990 - Belgium, the Netherlands (Holland), or Germany
From 1980 through 1996 - Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy or Greece.

You spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 5 years or more from January 1, 1980, to present, in any combination of country(ies) in Europe, including

in the UK from 1980 through 1996 as listed above
on or associated with military bases as described above, and
in other countries in Europe as listed below:

Czech Republic
Ireland (Republic of)
Kosovo (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
Montenegro (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
Netherlands (Holland)
Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
Slovak Republic (Slovakia)
Yugoslavia (Federal Republic includes Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia)
posted by naoko at 8:15 PM on November 30, 2011

It's a little more complicated than that - here's a more detailed explanation...

None of that makes any sense to me except Switzerland. I can understand why the Red Cross doesn't like Switzerland. After all, the Swiss stole their emblem.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:33 PM on November 30, 2011

It's about mad cow disease but I don't know enough about it to know whether that level of precaution is really necessary.
posted by naoko at 12:28 PM on December 1, 2011

naoko: I think the issue is that nobody really knows enough about how prion-based diseases work to know how much precaution is sensible. Apparently the prion PrPSc, believed to be responsible for diseases like mad cow, kuru and CJD, can be found in the blood as well as in the brain, so there's some risk during transfusion but it's not clear how much (the amount found in the blood is much lower). They're very complicated diseases to study - for one, the lag between infection and symptoms can be up to decades.

Actually, I was shocked to learn this, but we still don't even know that the prion is infectious all by itself -- there's some biochemical evidence that lipids (and maybe also RNA) may also be necessary for infectivity in vivo. (There's also the intriguing detail that cows had been fed offal from other animals before BSE epidemic, and that the epidemic was associated with a move to different processing that preserved more of the lipid content. Could be a coincidence, of course.)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:22 AM on December 3, 2011

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