Public safety remains top priority in Australia – and rightly so
Tasmanian gay activist Rodney Croome has again called for the Red Cross to accept blood donations from gay men who say they practise safe sex – but FamilyVoice Tasmania state director Jim Collins does not share Croome’s view.
“I and many others are greatly relieved that the Red Cross is maintaining its safety standards,” Mr Collins said today.
“In the late 1970s and early 80s, people died after receiving blood donated by people such as prostitutes and their customers, illicit drug injectors and men who have sex with men.
“As the Red Cross has indicated, these rules remain valid. Ninety per cent of new HIV infections in this country are transmitted via homosexual sex.
“Obviously the Red Cross aren’t being vindictive in their guidance. They are simply reflecting the health realities for certain sectors of the community.”
Jim Collins said the evidence presented by the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal in 2009, opposing a similar call by gay activist Michael Cain, is equally relevant today:
- Condoms do not guarantee “safe sex” and are only about 80-90% effective.
- While all blood donations are tested for HIV, there is a period of time after infection when the test is unreliable.
- Unprotected receptive anal intercourse is responsible for by far the greatest number of HIV infections in Australia. This is because rectal trauma during anal intercourse may permit direct contact between infected semen and blood. The insertive partner is also at risk, but to a lesser extent.
- A homosexual man may believe his relationship is monogamous, but he cannot guarantee his partner’s fidelity.
- A homosexual man who always uses condoms in an apparently monogamous relationship is nevertheless still at risk of HIV because condoms do not give 100% protection and there is a relatively high prevalence of HIV (5-10%) in the Australian homosexual community.
- Men who have sex with men are at higher risk from other blood-borne diseases such as syphilis and hepatitis B and C.
- The estimated incidence of HIV per year in Australian homosexual men in general is between 60 - 121 times greater than for Australian heterosexual men in general.
- The HIV incidence for monogamous homosexual men who always use condoms is nearly twice as great as for heterosexual men who never use condoms.
- Australia has one of the safest blood supplies in the world. The blood supplies in Spain and Italy, where homosexual men are allowed to donate blood in some circumstances, are less safe than in Australia.
“It is great that many people are willing to give blood to help others. But I would encourage the Red Cross and other authorities to stand firm against political agendas that would put at risk the health of those Australians needing blood transfusions,” Mr Collins said.
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