Australian Expert’s Astonishing Claims About Gay Blood Donors

Timothy Kincaid

August 19th, 2008

When Michael Cain was denied the ability to donate blood to Australia’s supply because he had been in a same-sex relationship, he decided to sue. He is claiming that standards should rely upon whether the person engages in unsafe sex practices rather than on their orientation.

Arguing in opposition was Doctor Brenton Wiley

Doctor Brenton Wiley told Hobart’s anti-discrimination tribunal today that the incidence of HIV infection among gay men is more than 1,000 times higher than regular donors.

Well, it would seem that Dr. Wiley is either very poorly informed about the subject for which he is an expert witness or he cannot do simple math.

According to Avert, there were about 15,670 people living with HIV in Australia at the end of 2006, or about 0.078% of the population. If HIV infection were 1,000 higher it would mean that 79% of gay men in Australia have HIV.

Really, Dr. Wiley?

Well we also know that as of 2006 there were roughly 10,650 gay men living with HIV. If Dr. Wiley’s claims were true, Australia would have a total gay male population of 13,500.

Anyone who has seen the hundreds of thousands of revelers at Sydney’s Gay Pride parade alone would have to scoff at Dr. Wiley’s magical math.

The case is before Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal and UKgaynews reports

only 95 men who have sex with men in Tasmania have HIV, an estimated 0.5% of that group.


August 20th, 2008

This is not something so unusual. This week I read on the Cathedral of Hope website, the largest gay and lesbian church in the world in Dallas, Texas, that a local blood bank had called the church and requested a blood drive at the church.

The article gave the date and then reminded that gay men, who make up most of the church, would AGAIN not be permitted to donate blood, but that the lesbians and straight folks of the church were welcome to participate.


August 20th, 2008

When I was closeted, I was a frequent blood donor, beginning at age 17, before I was sexually “active” at all. During the next 16 years, I had probably 4 – 5 experiences with other men, was in severe denial, and lied every single time I went to give blood. For the record, I was HIV- the entire time, and continued to be so at my last test, about 3 years ago (sadly, I am still not “active” enough to warrant yearly testing). In fact, after my last donation, shortly before I decided to completely come out of the closet (and stop donating blood for political reasons), the Red Cross informed me that I was not only HIV-, I was CMV-, which is far rarer (about 2% of adults). They desperately wanted my blood because adults who are CMV- are very rare, but patients with immune-compromising clinical issues need CMV- blood. Ironic, ain’t it?

The thing is, the way the current system works, only honest, out, gay men are actually excluded. There is no way to know if anyone is lying (which is why they also give you the chance to negate your donation by choosing the “don’t use” bar code for your donation, which can only be read well after you leave the donation site). Not to mention, if you are a straight man who had sex with prostitutes weekly from 1990 – 2007, but have not done so in the past 13 months, you are good to donate.

The current system is simply homophobic, and not supported by clinical evidence.


August 24th, 2008

What chills me about these pathetic screening measures, is what is implied: are they clinically screening each donation or not? It would seem they are not.


August 24th, 2008

Yup, just checked with friend whose wife is a nurse — they screen one in ten donations. My friend’s brother caught Hepatitis C from a transfusion — he had a miserable year on Interferon treatment.

The blood donation system is really scary.

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