Help the Real Vampires, Be a Hero!

I know it’s a silly title but there are people who need blood to live.

Want to be a hero? Most of us can do this. Give blood. It doesn’t matter where you live, donate if you can.

I have donated to families so desperate that they would give EVERYTHING they had for just a unit of blood. It’s life in a bottle. I still donate blood. I have been in India and due to the rarity of my blood type I donate once a month (It saved my own life when I required a transfusion during Dengue Fever). To date I have donated 35 to 40 units of blood to date.

Be a hero. Save a life, ride a gurney (and give blood).


  1. says

    Are they still saying they don’t want your blood if you were in England eating beef in the 80s? They stopped accepting mine and I’ve never gone back. :\

  2. Arkady says

    Sadly they don’t want mine yet, downsides of working with Cat3 viruses in the lab (plus the vaccinia and polio in the Cat2 lab where people aren’t as careful). I am a registered organ donor though.

    Years ago I did donate blood to science, we referred to the immunologists as vampires because they were always after fresh blood!

  3. lsamaknight says

    I do give blood (actually donated about half a week ago) but the Australian Red Cross doesn’t let you donate whole blood more than every twelve weeks (I have pondered donating plasma which they let you do every two weeks but never actually committed to it).

    Though I was struck by the similarity in terminology. I always refer to donating blood as a trip to visit the vampires.

  4. sugarfrosted says

    I give blood, probably not as often as I should. I really don’t like that I have to lie about my sexuality in order to donate. I really wish that requirement would be rescinded.

  5. says

    The issue is that the incidence of HIV in the gay community is extremely high even today. While it is falling the MSM community still make up a lot of cases. In 2010 63% of new HIV cases were amongst the MSM (with similar rates for Hep).

    MSM make up roughly 6 million people in the USA. Roughly 2% of people are responsible for 60% of all HIV cases.

    Hell in some places 45% of black MSM are HIV positive. No… mate there is a reason why MSM are banned from giving blood and it’s the same reason I cannot give blood in the UK for a year after I go home (Because Indians who visit India carry Malaria and that can really really kill people who need blood).

    It’s just common sense. This is one thing I cannot condemn.

    I think the way to solve this is to ask MSM who aren’t in long term relationships and with known HIV clean status to not donate but the problem is that this is very very hard to police in the same way that “Have you had a fever in India” is hard to police. And we don’t have a test for HIV during the latency period and you can easily transmit the disease there.

    We cannot afford to rescind the order. Not until HIV is stamped out.

  6. VeganAtheistWeirdo says

    I read this a couple days ago and it’s really been bothering me. I mean, it’s bothered me since the first time I heard it, but maybe you can help me with it.

    Hell in some places 45% of black MSM are HIV positive.

    You acknowledge that this is not the same everywhere. That’s such an extreme number that I’m wondering if you mean to say that 45% of HIV positive patients are black MSM. The list of countries that ban MSM donation indefinitely is extensive. Do they understand that not all MSM engage in “high risk activities”? To be blunt, not every gay male has anal sex. Not every gay man is promiscuous. How is it just to deny all of them, and all of those people who would have benefited from their donations, based on a single trait that neither proves nor is defined by the relevant behavior?

    And no, I’m not suggesting the vampires should start asking MSM what they do in bed. I understand that you have much more experience with the data and the rhetoric than I do and I’m hoping you can help me understand why this couldn’t be handled another way.

  7. says

    MSM indicates Gay and Bisexual men who have sex with other men…

    The issue is that it’s impossible to police. Just look at the comments here. We already have one person here who lied about their sexual activity.

    The problem is you can be HIV positive and simply not know. If it gets in blood that’s a lot of sick people. We already had such an issue when HIV got into blood product prior to the knowledge of the virus. It’s a calculated risk and the issue is that the risk of blood being HIV positive from the MSM community is just so high.

    The value was from the CDC. The issue being condom usage in black MSM communities seems to be incredibly low. That’s the problem. Despite knowledge of risky behaviour many of the MSM have not adopted safety measures.

    The fact remains that more 3% of the population is responsible for a more than 50% representation of HIV cases.

    This is medicine, You are asking people to place their medical careers on the line with a risky product that we already worry about using by adding a major factor of risk.

    You could easily donate 6 to 10 litres of blood (at 2 donations a year) of HIV positive blood before its detected. That blood would have been injected into between 20 to even hundreds of people if its being converted to plasma or packed cells…

  8. VeganAtheistWeirdo says

    I do know what MSM is supposed to mean. That’s part of my point. Sex != penile-anal penetration of one partner by another — the highest-risk sexual practice ascribed primarily to MSM. Men who have sex with other men do not all do the same things, just like any other demographic.

    I do understand that this fact doesn’t change the data as collected under their very broad definition, which is why I’m even having this rational discussion. I’m saying it’s an even smaller subset (men who have unprotected anal sex with other than a known-negative partner) of that group (MSM) that are responsible for the results. That’s where the discrimination becomes a problem.

    The issue is that it’s impossible to police. Just look at the comments here. We already have one person here who lied about their sexual activity.

    Yes, he lied about it because he knew his status as MSM was not, in his case, relevant. Some IDU (injection drug users) may lie in order to get cash for their next hit by donating blood. As you said, it’s impossible to police, but I don’t think an indefinite ban based on self-reported behavior is the best solution.

    We cannot afford to rescind the order. Not until HIV is stamped out.

    If you’d at least said Not until we have a reliable instant detection test for HIV I think I would object less.

  9. says

    Okay. That is understandable.

    However it is a topic that people are not honest about and honestly it is not an acceptable risk.

    There are 9 million MSM in the USA who have more new HIV cases a year than 291 million other americans. It’s a statistically significant amount.

    So no. It’s a terrible bloody idea, the incidence of HIV and other STDs such as Hepatitis is high since they too are spread this way. And please, don’t try to kid me. The facts are clear.

    Are you honestly telling me that the MSM who have anal sex with a single partner NEVER cheat? HIV affects straight people too and they too “never cheat”. The fact of the matter is that humans all are capable of cheating on their loved ones. And plenty of gay men have cheated on their loved one with someone who turned out to be HIV positive and spread the disease around.

    Roughly 26,000 MSM are diagnosed with HIV per year. Roughly 15,000 more with AIDS (directly). For 9 million people this works out per year as an incidence of 4.4 per 1000 per year. For the non MSM it’s 0.13 per 1000 per year. You are 34 times more likely to be HIV positive as an MSM.

    Now here is the thing. Are you 100% sure your partner is now currently not HIV positive? Because I have wards full of people who seem to have gotten HIV and AIDS immaculately. Neither husband nor wife has slept with another person yet they have contracted HIV. Now either there is some sort of AIDS fairy running about or more than likely one has to go into medicine with the well known phrase “Everybody Lies”.

    Oh and the two things you have to know about IDU is that we can identify them. If your job involves putting needles in veins then your job also knows recognising the people who do that regularly. The CDC claims that 75% of IDU related HIV comes from heterosexual IDU users. In 2000 there were 11,000 IDU related HIV cases which works out at 8250 straight IDU users (we are ignoring MSM and partners of IDU). There are roughly a million IDU in the USA according to the CDC. The incidence is therefore 0.82 per 1000 per year.

    That is much higher (nearly 8 times) higher than the non IDU and non MSM group but it is still actually lower than the MSM rate.

    MSM are detected solely through honesty. IDUs by the track marks they have.

    And we don’t have a reliable test for HIV because HIV has a lysogenic cycle. If the HIV is in a lysogenic cycle then it won’t show up on the test. If your immune system is “run down” for example if you were sick enough to require a blood test then the HIV virus can reactivate and form the lytic cycle and reproduce.

    Which is why we have difficulty detecting it at early stages.

    It’s just common sense and medical prudence to do so in this manner. We do have reliable instant detection systems such as Cassette ELISA (I use the HIV Tridot in my clinic) which works like a pregnancy kit but with blood however the issue is that such a test doesn’t detect the lysogenic phase of HIV since there are no circulating antibodies in the first phase. Western Blots take ages to do to detect circulating virus and are expensive considering how much blood already costs.

    A pint of blood is around $200 in the USA (Oh yes, you guys don’t have a centralised blood bank so have to deal with the vultures that are organ brokers and a pint of universal donor can fetch upto $265). A western Blot is around $200 too.

    This would DOUBLE the price of blood and be simply economically unviable. Honestly from a hospital standpoint it would be cheaper to take MSM blood and throw it out because the total loss there would be a single blood bag rather than another $200 odd dollars to guarantee the no HIV status of the blood.

    Medicine simply doesn’t work that way.

    Oh and if you want to ditch the IDU looking for quick cash? Swap to the UK’s system. It’s purely voluntary so IDUs have no reason to donate blood. There is no incentive unless a cup of tea and a free piece of cake is “an incentive”.

  10. VeganAtheistWeirdo says

    “Everybody Lies”.

    I loved House, MD. The medicine and other aspects may have been outrageous, but House’s character was always entertaining.

    By the way, from your response it seems you may have gotten the impression that I’m speaking as a MSM on behalf of MSM. I’m not. I’m a cis straight (maybe genderqueer) woman who happens to have a lot of interaction with gay men (and women, for that matter). I don’t want to misrepresent myself or my stake in the discussion at hand.

    As I said before, the fact that those who engage in risky behavior are MSM is not equivalent to “all MSM engage in this behavior.” I’m not denying that a lot of them do — I’m saying there’s still a discrimination factor in banning all members of the larger group based on the behavior of a subset.

    If your job involves putting needles in veins then your job also knows recognising the people who do that regularly.

    Of course you’d notice if they had tracks. But I don’t imagine you having them remove their shoes or drop their pants to let you examine their feet or groins, so the truly dedicated may get past you. I absolutely agree about getting rid of the cash incentive. I don’t know what percentage of our blood supply is obtained that way; I think most of it is voluntary, with the incentive (if any) being a free cholesterol screening.

    Thank you for explaining the difficulties with testing in a way that makes some sense. I really appreciate all the time you’ve taken to help me understand this. I’m still frustrated by it, but I can’t say I expected you to epiphanize a solution to the issue just because I asked. I was looking for a better explanation and at least you provided that. It’s obvious you’re passionate about what you do, and I think the world benefits from it.

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