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Misinformed: Michael Fabricant wants to lift a ban on gay men giving blood - but seems seriously misinformed about the subject. [Image: Evening Standard.]

Misinformed: Michael Fabricant wants to lift a ban on gay men giving blood – but seems seriously misinformed about the subject. [Image: Evening Standard.]

Perhaps he has been flailing around for a campaigning subject, what with all the good ones being in opposition to the Conservatives.

Perhaps he thinks pushing otherwise-healthy people into an already-overstretched National Health Service will be a good advert for privatisation. It’s crazy, but it’s a possibility.

There can be few other reasons for Michael Fabricant’s weak bid to poison UK blood supplies by allowing people who may not know they are infected to donate.

He reckons a ban on sexually promiscuous gay men should be lifted as straight men who behave in the same manner do not suffer the same discrimination, which is insane.

There are several things wrong with this. Firstly, he is misrepresenting the issue.

The ban does not affect only sexually promiscuous gay men – it affects any man who has had sex with another man, with or without a condom. This clearly discriminates against gay men who are in a monogamous relationship in which both partners are free of infection. They should not be covered by the ban.

Sexually promiscuous gay men, however, should.

Secondly, the ban was put in place – unless the memory cheats – because blood supplies donated by gay men were discovered to be infected with HIV. Anybody can see that a ban on anything that could spread HIV is entirely sensible and should only be lifted if technology has moved on enough for doctors to spot infected blood immediately or screen out the infection in blood that has been donated.

It has been suggested that this has happened and the time period of the ban should be reduced to the period it takes for screening tests to be effective. This seems reasonable, as long as a prospective donor can show that they have been through the screening process. Professor John Forsyth of the government’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs has made it clear that the situation is under constant review.

So Fabricant should be calling for a reduction in the ban – not its outright removal.

Thirdly: In fact, Fabricant himself skimmed over the responsible approach to the issue, which is that “neither straight people nor gay people who have had unsafe sex should give blood.” He added, “within 12 months,” but we could probably reduce that according to when it is possible to screen for infection, as suggested above.

Perhaps that would result in too few people volunteering to give any blood at all. You can’t blame them for that – Fabricant’s Tories have forced hard times on the masses.

Who can blame them for turning to a bit of good old-fashioned earthy sex to cheer themselves up?

Note: This article has been revised after several commenters informed this blog of gaps in Fabricant’s information and of technological advances. VP is grateful to them.

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