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Local man to abstain from sex for a year so he can donate blood

Buzzfeed interviews Jay Franzone, a gay Lasell student who has given up sex partly to comply with an FDA rule that says gay men can donate blood after a sexless year, but more to show the problems with that rule.

By jumping through the federal government’s hoops - a year without sex - he hopes to demonstrate that the policy is not just unworkable but discriminatory.

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Comments

What's to stop him from simply lying? No really, why bother with the red tape if there's no verification?

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Have you given blood? It's an exercise in altruism. I would never lie. As a result, I haven't been able to give blood in some 15 years. I'm certain other donors feel the same. We're not lying to get something. Why would we lie to give something?

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Where the girls "abstain" from sex but take it around back at Gods loophole instead?

How do you get certified as abstained anyway?

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How do you get certified as abstained anyway?

I think this is a big part of the point of his public exercise. These restrictions are an exercise in punitive fiction, rather than based in any realistic public health knowledge of HIV in the blood supply, gay people, or human behavior.

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Get married to a Jewish woman

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The FDA is not imposing this rule because the Obama administration hates gay men. It imposes this rule because we are living in the aftermath of an epidemic that hit the gay community very hard, and there are more than a million Americans -- many of them gay men -- living with HIV. No one thinks badly of gay men because of this rule, nor should any gay man feel badly about himself because of it. (Likewise, I have a friend who can't give blood because he periodically has to travel to a country in a tropical area. I don't think badly of him, nor should he feel badly about himself.)

It might be true that the FDA could obtain the same level of safeguard by requiring blood donation centers to ask all donors a series of highly personal questions about their sex lives. That sounds like it would make things worse, not better.

Over time, HIV incidence will drop and blood testing methodology will improve, and we'll be able to get rid of the rule entirely. In the meantime, people should live their lives.

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We're lucky! "Over time" is now. People can be tested in multiple ways ot know their status and the blood-collecting organizations can, too, so the rule is superfluous.

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The FDA removed the lifetime ban and went to the one-year rule in December 2015. It didn't remove it entirely for the reason that there is some period of time when a person can be infected with a viral load too low to show up when the blood is tested. Presumably testing may improve to the point that the FDA can drop the rule entirely, but the FDA doesn't think we're there now. Why should we think that the FDA is mistaken about that? (To be sure, if the FDA was run by a bunch of right-wing religious fanatics and/or incompetent morons, there would be a reason to be skeptical, but there's no reason to think either of those things are true.)

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You seem to know better about HIV and infection than I do, so I'll defer to you.

(Un-)related, the CDC's memorandum from last year seems ridiculous. The lengthy statement says "men who have sex with men" should abstain from giving blood. What is "sex"? It's only defined once, and that time, in a footnote, as "anal".

Not exactly very helpful to the general public.

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So we gay men who want to donate blood can have all the oral sex we want, including unprotected oral sex where the receptive individual has tiny cuts in his mouth, the type often caused by vigorous brushing or flossing.

It's risky but only anal sex is prohibited because why?

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Straight people can be married to junkies and not know it until they have hepC or HIV - and all those "saving virginity for marriage" types can continue their backdoor adventures with multiple heterosexual partners and share all their cooties and still give blood.

Doesn't sound much like science to me.

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HIV experts will tell you that oral sex is not an efficient means of transmission for HIV, even with tiny cuts. I wouldn't call it zero risk, but the risk is extremely low.

I also remember some members of gay community were pissed that the kid from Who's the Boss claimed he was infected via oral, mostly due to the fact that he admitted to smoking meth and engaging in unprotected anal sex in the same time frame.

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According to the CDC, "Most new HIV diagnoses in women are attributed to heterosexual sex."
http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/women/
So why not ban heterosexual women who had sex in the last 12 months from donating?

The rules may or may not be well intentioned, but the rules are homophobic and hypocritical.

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Because women do not transmit to women very readily, there are very few HIV cases in women.

You lack an understanding of statistics.

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The CDC is not concerned, in it's rules re blood donation, about the spread of HIV via sexual contact - a woman donor with HIV is just as much a risk to blood recipients as a HIV positive male donor. In the US, all donated blood is screened for HIV (and lots of other diseases). But no test is perfect, so to keep the number of false negatives to a minimum, it makes sense to exclude certain demographic groups.

In the US, the chance that a random woman (hetero or not) will have HIV is much lower than the chance a non-heterosexual man will. These men - gay, bi, etc - make up about 4% of the US population, but account for almost two-thirds of all new cases of HIV infection each year.

It comes out to (very roughly) less than 1 in every 14000 women having HIV, vs. about 1 in every 280 non-heterosexual men having HIV. That's a 50-to-1 ratio!

If non-heterosexual men are excluded from the donation pool, that's the largest share of potential positives in only a few percent of possible donators.

The question is always - are groups being excluded too widely or too narrowly? The answer changes over time. As the tests for HIV get better, faster and cheaper, then we should reasonably expect that the exclusions will narrow to smaller and more specific groups.

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"The question is always - are groups being excluded too widely or too narrowly? The answer changes over time. As the tests for HIV get better, faster and cheaper, then we should reasonably expect that the exclusions will narrow to smaller and more specific groups."

Agreed.

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It's all self reported so anyone can claim whatever they want. If this guy or anyone else wants to claim they have had no sex for a year, they can donate.

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The ban is there for practical reasons, the same way women have lower insurance rates than men.

Testing blood costs money. Discovering a donor with tainted blood wastes the blood of 10 other donors, because blood is mixed and tested in batches to save money. Gay men have statistically the highest rates of STDs. Lesbian women have the lowest. Lesbian women are free to give blood for that reason. Gay men are not.

And it's not only gay men who get deferred. People who traveled to certain foreign countries during certain years are also banned or deferred.

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Gay men have statistically the highest rates of STDs.

Nope. Teenagers and young adults account for half of new cases of STDs. http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats13/adol.htm

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While anyone who has sex can get an STD, sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are at greater risk. In addition to having higher rates of syphilis, more than half of all new HIV infections occur among MSM. Many factors contribute to the higher rates of STDs among MSM:

Higher rates of HIV and STDs among MSM increase a person’s risk of coming into contact with an infected partner and becoming infected themselves.
Certain behaviors- such as not using condoms regularly and having anal sex - increase STD risk.
Homophobia, stigma, and discrimination can negatively influence the health of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.

http://www.cdc.gov/std/life-stages-populations/stdfact-msm.htm

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And the STD of Most Concern HIV?

CDC estimates that 1,218,400 persons aged 13 years and older are living with HIV infection, including 156,300 (12.8%) who are unaware of their infection. Over the past decade, the number of people living with HIV has increased, while the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. Still, the pace of new infections continues at far too high a level—particularly among certain groups.

HIV Incidence (new infections): The estimated incidence of HIV has remained stable overall in recent years, at about 50,000 new HIV infections per year. Within the overall estimates, however, some groups are affected more than others. MSM continue to bear the greatest burden of HIV infection, and among races/ethnicities, African Americans continue to be disproportionately affected.

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Why do new cases matter?

What matters in this case is the percentage of a population that has the disease.

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You're stupid. People who already know they have HIV and/or have had it a long time don't donate, or would be caught by PCR and antibody screening easily.

New cases are important because those are people who likely don't know yet they are infected. And antibodies will not be detected for 3-6 months. PCR is also not 100% accurate. In the absence of both tests providing a margin of safety, that's where demographics come to play.

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Somebody with Hepatitis A breathed on me in college (really, no physical contact needed).

I had to live in the basement for six weeks and my food was pushed under the door and my dishes sterilized daily. I was not allowed to see anyone, even the ones that got gamma-globulin shots to counteract my germs.

And I have been banned from giving blood forever.

It's not just gay guys (straight woman here), and it's not just AIDS or HIV.

You'd think they'd want my antibodies.

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HepA bans have more to do with the screening test that doesn't differentiate between active and past infections, not the risk that you may infect another person.

HepC is transmissible by transfusion and does lurk in the body even when someone seems healthy.

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Not so much by choice. And I didn't issue a press release about it.

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Don't you mean: I didn't issue a press release about it.

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What about if a gay man is in a monogamous relationship where both people are HIV-negative? Why should he be ineligible to donate blood?

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Because people in monogamous relationships sometimes cheat.

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That applies to straight couples, too.

If you don't think some of those "straight" married men cheat with people of the same sex, head up the Mystic Valley Parkway along the lakes some early morning when the old guys are "out walking the dog" or "reading the paper". Heheheheheheh

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The Strategy. BEFORE sex get tested TOGETHER for A VARIETY OF STIs including HIV then make an INFORMED decision, google... tested together before sex

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