Monday, January 16, 2006

Bio Terrorism the African Way

I have previously blogged about how the Health Department forced the South African National Blood Service to abandon statistical risk profiling and switch to a more expensive testing method of dubious value. Interestingly, they only specified abandoning race related risk profiling. Nobody said anything about any other profiling.

It has now come to light that SANBS is still using sexual orientation profiling, based on international statistics that show that homosexual men are a high risk group. Now, I'm all for changing the wording from sexual preference to 'do you practice anal sex', because really that's what it comes down to. Sexual preference does not dictate it - many gay men only have oral sex, many straight men and women practice anal sex. So really, when it comes down to the bones of the statistics, that's what they should be looking for. Just change the wording.

But no, that kind of rational reaction would not be sufficient if you are the Gay and Lesbian Alliance. No, as far as they are concerned, the rational reaction is to have 300 members immediately donate blood and lie about their sexual orientation to do so. Maybe even that wouldn't have been so bad if they were all HIV neg and doing it to prove the point. But here's the kicker: 65% of them admit to not knowing their HIV status, and at least one knows he has full blown AIDS.

It doesn't matter that it will all get tested. There are window periods where the virus can go undetected. There are errors in the testing process. Infected blood can and does get through no matter how good your testing is (which is why risk profiling prior to donation is so important, but never mind). So there is a non zero chance that because of their actions, someone whose transfusion is meant to save them, will ultimately kill them.

This is not peaceful protest. This is biological terrorism. I don't care who you are or what fringe movement you stand for or even how valid your complaints are: this is not acceptable.


Blogger ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

I agree with you. There are lots to be said for either side and how they handled themselves. But sentiments aside, what gets me most is the iresponsible and reckless way in which the protest was handled. All it did was take the focus away from the real isues.
This is not a game! Blood is a precious commodity and many lives are at stake here.
Working together on a solution, and I hope they find a way to do so, seems the only sensible thing to do.

January 17, 2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger moonflake said...

not only are they taking the focus away from the real issue, they're actually doing the gay and lesbian community a huge disservice. This will just be an excuse for every homophobe and gaybasher out there to go 'see what i told you about those damn gays?'
personally, i think they guy who knew he had aids and donated under false pretenses anyway, should be charged with attempted murder. no one should be left doubting the seriousness of what he did.

January 17, 2006 10:04 AM  

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