Saturday, January 14, 2006


The South African Gay and Lesbian Alliance, unhappy with a question about sexual activity asked of prospective donors, plans to flood the country's blood services with the blood of gay men:
The Alliance claims members have already donated 120 units of blood.

It aims to flood the blood services with 70,000 units.

Alliance spokesman Juan Uys describes the question as "humiliating, offensive and an insult to gay men". He says all blood should be treated equally.
The question is there for a reason; the Australian Red Cross Blood Service must ask a similar question as it won't accept blood from a man who has engaged in male to male sex within the past 12 months. Interestingly, blood from anyone who has had a root canal within the past week also isn't accepted.

I really can't see what the ruckus is about or the point of putting pressure on screening services. Wouldn't the members of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance feel just a tad guilty if a member's blood turned out to HIV infected and slipped through the screening process?

Update:The linked BBC story also notes:
It is not the first time that the SANBS has been hit by controversy.

Last year it was forced to change its screening procedures when it was revealed that they destroyed blood donated by black people, because it claimed they were at a high risk of HIV infection.

It emerged that President Thabo Mbeki's blood was destroyed because he was black and because his doctor had refused to complete the personal history questionnaire used to screen donors.
If the SANBS's standard operating procedure was to destroy the blood from black donors then Mbeki's refusal to complete the questionnaire was irrelevant. I did a bit of checking and came up with this from a South African source:
At a presidential visit to a blood donation site, President Thabo Mbeki's blood was not used because he asked that he not have to fill in the questionnaire asking for personal details and a medical history.

Newspaper reports subsequently exposed the service's previous policy of rating blood from races other than white as a higher risk, which emerged in a labour hearing of an SANBS staff member. Discussions followed between the health department and SANBS about its discrimination against black donors.
The policy has changed as directed by the South African government.


Anonymous Jorgen said...

So last year, they were really only interested in blood from the white heterosexual part of the population, i.e. from a small minority.

4:39 AM  

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