Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Rainbow Wellington taking NZ Blood Service to the HRC

On Stuff today:
A gay rights group is taking the New Zealand Blood Service to the Human Rights Commission over the ban on sexually active homosexual men giving blood.

Rainbow Wellington wants fewer restrictions on gay men giving blood and will have mediation with the blood service in February.

The service reviewed risks posed by homosexual men in 2007, with a report released in April last year.

Previously, any man who had engaged in homosexual acts over the past decade was banned from giving blood.

The service now prohibits any man who has engaged in protected or unprotected anal or oral sex with another man over the past five years from giving blood.

Rainbow Wellington chairman Tony Simpson said that effectively banned all men in homosexual relationships and was discriminatory.

In Tasmania, men who had gay sex had to wait a year before giving blood, while in Britain they were banned forever, he said.

Simpson said three to six months was all that was necessary for the virus to show up in tests.
Click through for the rest.

Great to see this issue getting an airing. The ban mainly seems to have been about discrimination at worst and ignorance of the actual risks at best.


Anonymous said...

um... which virus?

Anonymous said...

So what exactly is the problem with banning certain people from donating blood? Surely the safety of the blood supply and the safety of the recipents of donated blood is more important than the "right" to donate blood.

goddard said...

You'd be amazed how irritating the NZ Blood Service's ad campaigns get when you can't donate for silly reasons. In my case it's illogical fear of CJD since I lived in the UK for a couple of years.

If giving blood is saving lives, excessive ass-covering must be killing people.

Paul said...

I cannot give blood because of the CJD risk. I accept this prohibition because the integrity of the blood supply is more important than me. Rainbow Wellington ought to think about what good they are doing. If the blood bank becomes contaminated with HIV, people will be infected. The judgement of the medical professionals who decide the rules should be respected.

More than twenty years ago, people worked very hard to ensure that HIV was viewed as a medical issue, not a moral one. Rainbow Wellington seem to be trying to make it a moral issue again.

Julie said...

If the ban has some scientific basis, about the risks of HIV carriers giving blood (no doubt inadvertently, not knowing they are infected) then why is it only applied to men who have anal or oral sex with other men, and not across the board to hetero sex acts as well?

Hugh said...

It's less scientific than statistical. No, there's no proof that the blood of gay men is poisonous, but gay men are more likely to have HIV than straight men.

Whether that's a valid basis for excluding them from donating blood is another issue, but it's not entirely a made-up concern. The real question is, presumably there are other groups who are disproportionately likely to suffer from HIV infection, so why aren't they banned too?

Oliver said...

The NZ Blood Service are not being homophobic in this instance. This really is just about using statistics to protect the blood supply.