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Gay Blood Ban Hearing: Red Cross Ignores Concerns from Experts and AMA




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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 Cain.

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 far lower.”

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 donate”.

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.


Gay Blood 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)

HIV 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)

Tasmanian ‘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.  Full witness statement of Prof. Anne Mitchell. (UK Gay News, August 12, 2008)

Gay Blood Ban Hearing: Red Cross Accused of “Scare Tactics”.   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 Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.  (UK Gay News, August 5, 2008)



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Posted: 19 August 2008 at 10:30 (UK time)


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