sarasvati: (bite me)
Ban on gay men donating blood in Canada deemed legal.

Oh fuck no...

In a nutshell, the Canadian Blood Services claim that the risk of spreading HIV to the general populace is just too high to allow gay or bisexual men to donate blood.

Yup, you read that correctly. That's what they think.

The assumption, I guess, is that all gay and bisexual men engage in unsafe sex all the time. Condoms? Pfft, what would a gay man use a condom? It's not like they need to worry about pregnancy.

Oh, right, this isn't 1980 anymore, and we actually know more about STDs now. (Or STIs, as is the preferred PC term, because the word "disease" was deemed too distressing for people and we now have to call them "infections.")

I can understand the cause for concern, I really can. It's not exactly an unknown fact that unprotected anal sex has a higher risk of transmitting HIV and other such pathogens to the receptive partner, provided, of course, that the penetrating partner is positive in the first place. That area's pretty much designed for a lot of absorbtion, after all. But they're acting like that's the only way to acquire it outside of blood transfusions and street drugs. Like straight women can't get HIV from an infected bisexual or even straight man. But you don't see them prohibiting women from donating blood.

Aitken added that the impact is not "in the same league" as a blood recipient being asked to accept lower safety standards.

Nobody's asking them to lower safety standards. It's simple. Change the question on the form from, "Are you a man who has had sex with another man since 1977" to "Are you a man who has had unprotected/unsafe sex with another man since 1977?" There, safety standards just as good as before, and can actually allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

What's to stop them from lying? Nothing. Nothing stops them from lying about their sexual orientation and sexual history, either. Except the risk of lawsuits if they're discovered, that is. So it's a real damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. You either hide part of your identity or you lie about it and risk getting sued for the part of your identity that you hid.

There's an example of such a lawsuit in that article. Canadian Blood Services had sued blood donor Kyle Freeman, who lied about having had sex with other men, and the court has now found him liable for $10,000 for negligent misrepresentation.

Note how it doesn't say whether or not Kyle Freeman was considered a risk beyond beying a man who had sex with a man. Nothing about him being HIV-positive, or any of his partners being HIV-positive. Nope, he engaged in some form of gay sex, and that was worth suing him over. Yes, he committed fraud, and yes, that was the wrong thing to do, but for crying out loud, at least make it so that the risky are getting punished instead of everyone!

This especially irks me because of the article's later list of people who can't give blood.

— Being the sexual partner of someone who has tested positive for HIV or who has contracted AIDS since 1977.

— Accepting money or drugs for sex since 1977.

— Sharing needles or taking street drugs by needle, even once.

— Being born in or living in the following countries since 1977: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger and Nigeria.

— Having had sexual contact with anyone who was born in or lived in the aforementioned countries since 1977.

Basically, people who are seriously high risk of having HIV, or who already have it. They're essentially classing a gay male as being on the same spectrum as people who do illegal drugs.

It's an indefinite ban, too, because of "current scientific knowledge" of HIV and how it's transmitted. But they're ignoring a lot of sociological data such as increasing awareness of the disease and how it spreads, and increasing condom use in gay sex. Even if both partners were not HIV-positive, and they did it safely, those people can not ever donate blood in Canada. Because they're dirty dirty homos who participated in a high-risk activity with no actual risk involved.

Especially when you consider that you only get a temporary ban on donating blood if you're the sexual partner of someone who participated in high-risk activities... unless you're a guy that had sex with another guy. Women who've had unprotectd sex with men who had unprotected gay sex and actually contracted HIV from it can donate blood after a wait. (Providing that the HIV isn't showing in their systems, of course, because that would auot-ban them.) That's the real kicker, I think.

And you can say that such a thing is a low-risk category all you like. I agree with you. I think it's a higher risk category, though, than two uninfected men who've only ever had safe sex with each other.

I guess it particularly irks me because I'm not allowed to donate blood, because I've spent more than 3 months in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996. Yup, because of the Mad Cow scare, I can't donate blood here. But here's the crazy thing about that. I could have been raised a vegetarian and thus have no risk of having contracted that particular disease, but am still not allowed to donate. Someone who had a 2-hour layover in Heathrow Airport and ate a contaminated burger can donate. I could have been in a high-risk area engaging in no-risk activities, but they look no further. I lived in England for 5 years during that period. I'm banned. As if my mother, who donated blood for years before one day suddenly finding out that they no longer wanted hers.

I know that they need to identify as many possible risk factors as they can and eliminate as many of those as they can, but some of their rules seem designed to be in place so that they can complain that too few people give blood. They have really strict rules in place that they claim are not based on social prejudice, but allow another high-risk category to go on through after a short period of time.

Relatively short, anyway. Short compared to never being able to do it.

I can appreciate their concern, but it seems to me that there are better ways to do it. Like paying attention to sociological data too. Implementing more elaborate questionaires.

They do pay attention to sociological data in some places, though. There's a perma-ban on anyone who's used street drugs intravenously, but only a temp-ban on someone who took pills orally. Using needles is a high-risk thing... if you're using used needles. Which, as Rei pointed out, most users of street drugs usually are. Otherwise the risk would be the same as oral consumption, after all. They make assumptions, as they have to in some cases, but they make the assumptions using data that isn't strictly medical and biological, as they do when it comes to the whole "gay men spread HIV" thing. Sociological data is being cherry-picked here. They use it in some places but not in others, and I can only assume one of two reasons for it:

1) The people in charge don't want to spend a weekend making a more detailed questionnaire for potential donors to fill out, giving a better indication of a person's actual risk category. Or

2) There's an actual prejudice against homosexuals that cannot be admitted to because then people would get in shit, but they're hiding behind the fact that it's technically not illegal to refuse to allow some people to donate blood. They can refuse anyone they like. A misogynist in charge technically could refuse to accept blood donations from women, if they liked, and it wouldn't really be illegal. But nobody would stand for it, even if they rationalized it by saying that straight women were in the next-highest risk group to contract HIV and they couldn't take any risks.

Nobody would stand for that, and bullshit would be called so quickly. Better measures would be put in place to ensure that women could donate again and that only those who were actually identified as being high-risk couldn't.

Come on, even I can think of better ways to properly identify high-risk homosexual men than by banning them all.

Should we ban victims of rape from donating blood, because rape is less likely to be done safely and thus they're at a higher risk of spreading any disease they may have caught from their raper? What about any woman who's had a miscarriage, because there could be something undiagnosed but bloodborne that could have caused it? Or what about anyone who could answer yes to one of those questionnaires given to people who've been diagnosed with cancer, which sometimes include questions like, "Do you frequently use a cell phone?" After all, if they use a cell phone, it might increase their risk of cancer, and we can't risk spreading it to somebody else.

Didn't bloody think so.
sarasvati: (sledgehammer of inspiration)
Triceratops never really existed?

The article posits that the triceratops was actually just a juvenile version of the torosaurus.

The researchers looked at 9 triceratops skulls and nine torosaurus skulls, which are far rarer.

They discovered that the oldest triceratops skulls showed that thinning in the neck-frill bone where the holes of the torosaurus would eventually appear.

Now I'll grant you that paleontology and evolutionary science are not my strong points, but is it also conceivable that the oldest triceratops had thinner bones because that's what tends to happens as a lot of animals get older? Their bodies break down, bones get thinner and weaker.

Not to mention, from the statistics and estimates that I can find easily by looking at a few websites, it looks like the torosaurus was smaller and lighter than the triceratops, too. Trike weighed in at about 6-12 tonnes, and toro weighed about 4-6 tonnes. Torosaurus was around 25 feet in length, compared to the triceratops's 26-29.

So apparently, according to the scientists doing the speculation, the dino in question had horns that changed in appearance as well as growth direction as it aged, has a neck frill that decreased in mass and also had holes appear in it, and also shrank? If anything, it would appear that the torosaurus may be a juvenile version of the triceratops, not the other way 'round.

Now those are just estimates, of course, and as I said, I'm not a paleontologist and I'm only getting my data here from research done by other people. But to me, it looks like the assumption that those scientists are making has a hell of a lot of holes in it, and I'm not just talking about the ones in the neck frill!
sarasvati: (bite me)
A drug for pregnant women that prevents lesbian daughters.

... Yeah, you read that right.

The theory behind this is that a tiny and inconclusive study in Sweden may have shown that this drug reduces the rate of girls being born with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which other studies have linked to "ambiguous genitalia" as well as higher rates of homosexuality and "masculine behaviour" in females, and apparently some doctor in New York thinks that this means that if pregnant women take the drug, the chances of them giving birth to a lesbian get drastically reduced.

A quote from this doctor: "The challenge here is... to see what could be done to restore this baby to the normal female appearance which would be compatible with her parents presenting her as a girl, with her eventually becoming somebody's wife, and having normal sexual development, and becoming a mother."

I think I'm going to go be sick now.


sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)

August 2011

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