HOBART, August 19, 2008 – The
Australian Red Cross has ignored the expert opinion of its chief medical
advisor on low risk sexual activity between men, it was claimed today.
The revelation came during the
cross examination of Dr Brenton Wylie, the primary Red Cross witness, in the
Tasmanian gay blood donor case initiated by Launceston gay man, Michael
According to documents presented to
the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal by Mr Cain’s lawyer, Peter Tree
SC, the Red Cross’s chief epidemiological advisor, Dr John Kaldor advised in
2001 that “based on current epidemiological evidence, there is no
justification for excluding donors on the basis of oral sex”.
Dr Kaldor also wrote: “It would
seem prudent to defer donors who have had male anal sex without a
condom...for a donor who has had anal sex only with a condom, the risk is
The documents also show that, as
well as ignoring Dr Kaldor’s views, the Red Cross ignored a request by the
Australian Medical Association to “obtain views on high risk heterosexual
relationships” in relation to blood donation.
The documents were put to Dr Wylie
because he was a member of the Red Cross management committee which made
decisions about blood donation exclusions.
On the basis that Dr Wylie is
effectively defending his own decisions about deferring gay blood donors, Mr
Tree questioned Dr Wylie’s impartiality as a witness before the inquiry.
In further evidence Dr Wylie
claimed that men who have sex with other men are thousands of times more
likely to have HIV than other people, despite the fact that only 95 men who
have sex with men in Tasmania have HIV, an estimated 0.5% of that group.
Dr Wylie agreed that Aborigines
have much higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases than other
Australians but disagreed that this should lead to their deferral from blood
donation because “they are a racial group not an activity”, and “they don’t
On the matter of statistical
modelling, Dr Wylie dismissed concerns that the models he provided to the
inquiry, which show that it would be dangerous to remove the blanket ban on
gay blood donation, show that a 12 month deferral of the kind operating in
Australia is also dangerous.
The case continues tomorrow.
The current gay blood donation
inquiry before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal was instigated by
Launceston gay man Michael Cain who is seeking a blood donation policy which
screens donors for the safety of their sexual activity rather than the
gender of their sexual partner.
The current hearings began on
August 7 and continue until the end of this month.
Ban Hearing: Screen Donors for Risky Sex, Not Partner’s Gender – Aids Expert.
An Australian Aids expert has told the Tasmanian inquiry into the gay blood
ban that it is time for donors to be screened for risky sexual activity, not
their partner’s gender. (UK Gay News, August 18, 2008)
Infection From Gay Blood Donation Likely “Once Every 5769 Years”.
The Tribunal hearing a case against the Australian Red Cross gay blood ban
has been told today that if the current bar on gay blood donation is lifted,
a single HIV-positive blood donation from a gay man will slip through
clinical screening in Tasmania once every 197 years. (UK Gay News,
August 15, 2008)
Bio-Ethicists Address Gay Blood
Donor Hearings. Two bio-ethicists today addressed the inquiry
underway in Tasmania into gay blood donation.
(UK Gay News, August 13, 2008)
‘Gay Blood’ Inquiry Hears that Safe Sex Works.
An inquiry into the current ban on
gay blood donation has heard that safe sex is effective in reducing HIV
risk. Social researcher, Associate Professor Anne Mitchell, today told
the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal that risky sexual activity is not
as widespread amongst gay and bisexual men as some studies suggest.
statement of Prof. Anne Mitchell.
(UK Gay News, August 12, 2008)
Gay Blood Ban Hearing: Red Cross Accused of “Scare
Gay activists have accused the Red
Cross of scare tactics on the first day of a hearing
into Australia’s gay blood ban, in Hobart today.
(UK Gay News, August 7, 2008)
Groundbreaking Gay Blood Ban Case Starts Thursday. The first full hearing in a groundbreaking gay blood ban
case begins in Hobart, Tasmania, on Thursday before the Tasmanian
(UK Gay News, August 5, 2008)
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Posted: 19 August 2008 at
10:30 (UK time)