Gay blood donors: Want to end the ban? Tell us what you do in bed.

Science, technology, and life.
Sept. 12 2011 10:04 AM

Bloody Personal

If you want to end the ban on gay men giving blood, tell us what you do in bed.

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That's the kind of interrogation you'll have to endure if we're going to assess your precise risk of donating infected blood. And that's why the U.K. committee didn't go that route, even though the interrogations would be confidential. "Studies suggest that the introduction of extensive donor health check questionnaires regarding sexual history will lead to a loss of existing donors," the committee concludes. "As a consequence of these factors, the review group excluded a sexual behavior based deferral at this moment in time."

So there's your challenge. To make specific behaviors, rather than group membership, the basis for donor screening, you'll have to persuade blood collection agencies that they'll lose fewer donors from behavioral interrogation than from excluding or deferring gay men. You'll have to take one for the team—in this case, for the other team. You'll have to surrender some of your privacy as well as your blood. Are you up for that?

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