Updated 2019 02 08: Added links to related articles.
“Blood donations by gay men are safe?” Such safety is relative, but the impressions of what is relatively safe are being distorted through lying with statistics to promote a political agenda. Take the following article.
Gay blood ban is lawful, says Finnish official
June 30, 2008
The Finnish Red Cross policy of banning men who have sex with men from donating blood should not be considered unlawful.
The country’s parliamentary ombudsman announced today that she had based her decision on expert opinions….(Full Story)
The article discusses not only the Finnish ban on blood donations by homosexual Finnish men, it also discusses a corresponding ban on blood donations from homosexual men in the U.K.
The pinknews article decries those bans, suggesting that they are discriminatory against homosexual men, using an argument that turns logic on its head, namely that U.K. vegetarians who never ate meat are likely to be as offended by being banned from donating blood in the US (on account of the danger that their blood may be infected with the BSE virus) as homosexual men are bound to be.
The fallacy of that argument is that vegetarians are virtually certain to consume foods that are not likely to be sources of BSE infections, while homosexual men with virtual certainty engage in sexual practices that are very likely to ensure the transmission of deadly and incurable sexual diseases.
In another misleading use of statistics that distorts the truth, the pinknews article conveys the impression that the blood of homosexual men in the U.K. is not as much at risk to contain HIV as the blood of heterosexual men is. To that end the article identifies that,
The latest Health Protection Agency findings released by National AIDS Trust show diagnoses of heterosexuals infected in the UK have increased by 50 per cent since 2003.
However, it fails to provide the information that is necessary to make that statistic useful in determining whether the blood from homosexual men poses a greater or smaller risk of being a source of infections than does the blood from individuals (men and women) who are not men who have sex with men. The article fails to identify the actual number of incidents of HIV infection that illustrate the respective HIV infections for men who have sex with men vs. HIV infections for the portion of the population comprised of individuals who are not men who have sex with men.
That is a very important but curious omission, given that the source of the quote provides that information. The U.K. Health Protection Agency identifies that in 2006 there were 69,400 adults (15-59) living with HIV. Of those, 39,300 (56.6) percent were heterosexuals (out of 99 percent of the population that can be considered to be heterosexual) and 30,100 (43.6%) were men who have sex with men (out of about 1 percent of the population who are men who have sex with men). (See Testing Times : HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United Kingdom: 2007; Figures 2.1.1 and 2.1.9)
That means that the average individual in the UK who is man who has sex with men is about 75.8 times more likely to be infected with HIV than is the average individual who is not a man who has had sex with men.
Another statistic that permits a comparison is presented by pinknews in such a fashion that it leads the majority of those who read it to come to the conclusion that the blood donated by men who have sex with men would pose only about half the risk of infection than does the blood of men who engage solely in sexual practices with members of the opposite sex.
Figures for the Health Protection Surveillance Centre for 2007 also reveal that of the newly diagnosed cases of HIV in 2007, 53% were acquired through heterosexual contact while only 21% were through male-to-male sexual contact.
It is important to quote the full paragraph from which the information in the preceding quote was taken:
HPSC officials were able to determine the mode of transmission for 150 of the new cases. Of the 150, 53% were transmitted through heterosexual contact, while 23% were transmitted among injection drug users and 21% were transmitted among men who have sex with men. More than 50% of the new cases were diagnosed among men, and 39% were diagnosed among women (Kelpie, Irish Examiner, 2/27). Gender was not available for 7% of the cases (Taylor, Irish Times, 2/26). The average age of people newly diagnosed with the virus was 33, the Examiner reports. (
Source, Medical News Today — That link no longer functions, but a copy of the article is accessible at the Internet Archive.)
A very important piece of information is contained in the very first sentence in that paragraph, namely the total of the new HIV cases being 150 for those cases for which the route of transmission had been determined.
What those figures do not identify is that 98 percent of the population is inclined to engage in heterosexual contact, that quite possibly homosexuals do have sexual contact with heterosexuals, and that only about one percent of the population is comprised of homosexual men.
Those figures permit to estimate something that the pinknews article omitted to identify, namely that the blood of homosexual men is many times more likely to be a source of infection of sexually transmitted diseases than is the blood of heterosexuals. The important thing to keep in mind is what can be concluded about the statistics identified above:
In Ireland, of the 150 new cases of HIV diagnosed and for which the route of transmission of the infection is known, 31 cases were contracted by members of the one percent of the population who are men who have sex with men, while the remaining 119 cases of HIV infections whose route of infections were known were contracted by the remaining 99 percent of the population. Therefore, based on those proportions of the incidents of HIV infections, Irish men who have sex with men are about 26 times more likely to have become infected with HIV than are other Irish, and all men in the U.K. who have sex with men are about 75.8 times more likely to have become infected with HIV than are all other individuals in the U.K.
Given those relative risks, it is very easy to understand why blood-banks are very reluctant to accept blood donations from gay men, as they should. Common sense and experiences such as that resulting from the Canadian blood bank disaster should prevail in refusing blood donations from high risk sources. (See also: Blood Trail and AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases among men who have sex with men)