Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Screening Questions to Give Blood

OK, here is the second new (and third overall) example on rules.  These are the first two here and here. 

Since the 1980s, the Red Cross has had a question in their screening questionnaire for males “Have you had sexual contact with another man since 1977, even once?”  The question came about during the AIDS crisis.  And it has never been removed.  There is also a question for males that asks about risky behaviors such as having unprotected sex or sharing needles.  But that one only asks about “in the past year?” 

Why am I questioning these rules?  There are many homosexual men in committed monogamous relationships who are just as sure as anyone else, probably even more, that they don’t have HIV.  Definitely more than a heterosexual male who has engaged in these risky behaviors more than one year earlier.  There are 10 million gay men who are screened out of giving blood unless they lie on the questionnaire (which is why I bring it up in a post about breaking rules).  There is currently a movement to eliminate the question, or at least change it to also be “in the past year?” 

My Take

It seems that we have learned a lot about HIV since the mid 1980s and smarter questions are not too hard to figure out.  The movement to get the screener changed makes a lot of sense to me.

Your Turn

What do you think?  Change the rule?  Ask gay men who are confident in their non-HIV-status to lie on the form?  Or continue to screen them out?  Or some other option I haven’t thought of?  Please chime in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a cynic, I would suggest that you ask whatever question you like, but test ALL blood donations for HIV and any other potential problems. You can use some rejects for plasma, or, all else failing, to fertilise the flower-beds in front of the unit.