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    Currently homosexual men who have ever had gay sex are unable to donate blood. The reason for this is that they are at a greater risk than other groups of having HIV, although more than 50% of people with HIV are heterosexuals, normally of African origin.

    Despite this 7% of sexually active homosexual men regularly donate blood.

    New proposals are for homosexual men who have not had sex for more than 10 years can now donate blood. This is believed to increase the risk of HIV in the blood supply by less than 5%. The reason for the 10 year gap is apparently related to the delayed time for HIV to show up in a blood test.

    Relevant articles:

    Pink news
    Spoiler:
    Show
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/04/10/gay-blood-donation-ban-to-be-lifted-but-only-for-men-who-havent-had-sex-for-10-years/

    Gay blood donation ban to be lifted for men who haven’t had sex for 10 years

    by James Park
    10 April 2011, 10:34am


    There is currently a blanket ban on gay men donating blood

    The British government is to lift the ban on gay men giving blood, ruling that a blanket ban is discriminatory and could be in breach of the Equality Act.

    However, lifting the ban will only apply to gay men who have not had sex for ten years prior to donating blood.

    The Sunday Times reports that the change in the ban will be announced by Anne Milton, the public health minister, shortly.

    While donated blood is screened for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, a small number of infected donations are missed due to the time between infection with HIV and it being detected in blood tests.

    The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) found that a ban on gay men from giving blood if they had not had sex with another man for five years would increase the risk of blood supplies being contaminated by five per cent. Ministers were told that this risk would halve for men who had not had gay sex for ten years.

    It is estimated that seven per cent of sexually active gay men donate blood despite the current ban.

    Campaigners have long pointed out that many gay men are in monogamous relationships, practice safe sex or are celibate.

    Around 86,500 people in the UK have HIV. According to the Terrence Higgins Trust, 42 per cent are gay men and 54 per cent are heterosexuals, the majority of whom are from Africa.

    A government source told the newspaper: “A complete ban is unfair and discriminatory but we need to protect public health, so the ten-year rule is what is being considered.”

    Gay men are prevented from donating blood in a number of countries. In New Zealand, they can donate so long as they have not had gay sex for ten years. South Africa allows gay men to donate blood with a five year deferral

    SABTO also examined whether there should be a lifetime ban on heterosexuals who have had sex with someone who has had sex with anyone from a part of the world where HIV is widespread. It also examined whether the supply of blood for patients of Afro-Carribean origin should be considered.


    The Times
    Spoiler:
    Show

    Ministers are to lift the ban on gay men giving blood — but will insist they must not have had sex for 10 years before they donate.

    Anne Milton, the public health minister, is expected to announce the move soon following concerns that the existing blanket ban is discriminatory and could breach equality laws. Gay men who are or have been sexually active are banned from donating to ensure that blood contaminated with HIV does not reach patients.

    Removing the ban will be welcomed by gay rights campaigners but critics are likely to express concern that it will increase the risk of patients contracting HIV.

    Although donated blood is screened for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, a tiny number of infected donations are missed because there is a short period after infection before a test will show a positive result.

    Ministers have been advised on the move by Sabto, the advisory committee on the safety of blood, tissues and organs. It found that if the ban were replaced by a new rule preventing gay men from giving blood for five years after having sex with another man, the risk of HIV reaching the blood supply would go up by less than 5%.

    It is estimated that this figure would halve if the “deferral” period were increased to 10 years. Ministers are therefore proposing that gay men should defer becoming donors until 10 years after having gay sex.

    The current blood donation system is based on trust and there is no policing to ensure that donors abide by restrictions. At least 7% of sexually active gay men give blood despite a ban.

    Gay men are the group most at risk of passing on HIV in blood, followed by intravenous drug users. The 10-year deferral is designed to ensure that people who are not aware they have contracted HIV do not unwittingly pass it on.

    Gay rights campaigners have argued for a lifting of the ban, saying many gay men are in monogamous relationships, practise safe sex or have been celibate for years.

    In its advice to the government, Sabto warned that although the risk of passing on HIV is slight, if the ban on gay men were lifted and a significant number ignored the deferral rules, the risk of passing on HIV would increase considerably.

    An estimated 86,500 people have HIV in Britain, with a quarter unaware that they have an infection. About 42% of people infected with HIV in 2009 were gay men, with 54% being heterosexuals, almost two-thirds of whom were black African, according to the Terrence Higgins Trust, the HIV charity.

    Gay men, with the exception of those who have never been sexually active, account for 63% of HIV diagnoses where the infection was acquired in the UK.

    The advice to Anne Milton pointed out that gay men are also at risk of passing on other sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis.

    A government source said: “A complete ban is unfair and discriminatory but we need to protect public health, so the 10-year rule is what is being considered.”

    The lifting of the ban is backed by Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, and Lynne Featherstone, the minister for equality.

    The Canadian blood service recently reviewed its policy of banning sexually active gay men from donating blood and decided not to lift the ban.

    In New Zealand there is a 10-year deferral policy, while South Africa has a five-year time limit.

    The advisory committee on blood donations also looked at whether to introduce a lifetime ban on heterosexuals who have had sex with someone from a part of the world where HIV is widespread, such as sub-Saharan Africa.

    Although the experts concluded this would cut the risk of HIV getting into the blood supply, there were concerns that such a move could be perceived as racially prejudiced. It could also limit the supply of blood for patients of Afro-Caribbean origin, particularly those with sickle cell anaemia.


    Interesting article about why this is actually more homophobic from total politics
    Spoiler:
    Show

    http://www.totalpolitics.com/blog/155587/the-blood-homophobia-just-got-worse.thtmlhttp://www.totalpolitics.com/blog/155587/the-blood-homophobia-just-got-worse.thtml

    The blood homophobia just got worse
    by Caroline Crampton / 11 Apr 2011 09:46

    At first sight, it looks like a major victory for equality. But on a closer look, lifting the ban on homosexual men donating blood is another health policy that is going to backfire on the coalition

    For various health-related reasons, I’m not allowed to give blood. This has always annoyed me, and I’m slightly jealous of friends and colleagues who can, since I think it’s one of the most altruistic things you can do.

    Imagine my surprise, then, when several years ago one of my closest friends responded to my moaning about it by saying that he couldn’t either. But not for tangible, provable medical reasons like me, but because he’s that lethal combination of homosexual and sexually active.

    When I read in yesterday’s papers that public health minister Anne Milton is shortly to announce that this ludicrous ban on homosexual men giving blood is to be lifted, I was pleased that reason had finally come to the fore.

    Yes, men who have sex with men are a high risk group for HIV/AIDS. People lie about their sexual practices, their drug use and their medical history - all of which could potentially lead to infected blood ending up in the blood bank. But homosexual people are no more likely to lie about these things than heterosexual people, and to assume otherwise is unacceptable discrimination.

    Obviously, this ‘good news’ policy is being trailed now to try in some small way to distract from the high profile delays in the NHS reforms. Nice try, Milton - you aren’t going to be able to draw fire from Lansley out that easily.

    Or are you? Look at bit closer at this announcement, and you find that what is replacing the discriminatory policy is, well, quite discriminatory and will, I hope, provoke widespread outrage.

    Only homosexual men who have not had sex with a man for ten years will be permitted to donate blood. Those who are more recently sexually active will still be banned. That’s all sex, mind - responsible and protected or otherwise.

    Three years ago, Johann Hari called the ban “bloody homophobia”. He was right - it discriminates against gay men and fails to place the same trust in them as it does heterosexual people who want to give blood.

    The reason given for changing this policy is that it “might breach equality legislation”. Surely this new version doesn’t lessen that risk? Men who have safe sex with other men, including men in civil partnerships or committed relationships, are still being discriminated against.

    Blood stocks - particularly for O negative - are dipping. Huge numbers of potential donors are being excluded for no valid reason.

    That’s not just “bloody homophobic”, it’s supremely bloody homophobic, extremely discriminatory and potentially dangerous for thousands of patients in need of transfusions. The inequality has just got worse, not better.


    Thoughts?

    My thoughts (a bit jumped, I feel a bit conflicted on this).

    Although <5% seems quite high, if it's <5% then the overall increase is pretty slim. With falling levels of blood stock, and more needed, the increased risk is probably justified in the increased amount of blood that will be generated.

    This in no way will stop the 7% of sexually active homosexual men that currently donate blood from donating blood. It's quite clear that if someone wants to donate blood, then they can, and maybe it might be worth considering regular screening programmes of HIV or insisting on recent HIV check documentation rather than a blanket ban? Make it people who have not had unprotected gay sex in the last 6 months, as within this time HIV would be possible to be screened? It is also possibly easier to say "I have not had gay sex for 10 years" than "I have never had gay sex".
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    I'd be for them donating blood, and have extra screening. Better this than people being forced to keep quiet. Heterosexuals can catch HIV too.
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    Meh. I think the ban itself is unfair. There is a small risk of such a disease, but this is far outweighed by the amount of good blood can give.

    Perhaps if we had free, and regular HIV screening? I am under the impression it's a relativley cheap process, judging by the frequency with which it's carried out in impoverished Africa.
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    (Original post by barnetlad)
    I'd be for them donating blood, and have extra screening. Better this than people being forced to keep quiet. Heterosexuals can catch HIV too.
    I think the screening point is mainly that HIV cannot be screened for if it has recently been caught.

    And homosexual men are just at a greater risk for HIV than most other groups of individuals - hence the ban.
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    They test the blood twice, once when it is donated and once before it is given to the recipient. However, the test is 99.9% accurate so roughly 1 in 2000 samples will give a false reading after two tests. MSM (Men who have sex with men) are one of the high risk groups as well as Africans who have sex abroad in particular so maybe their blood should be tested more than twice?
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    I've never really understood why gay men were unable to donate in the first place. Heterosexuals can catch HIV too, and the blood from all donors is tested for HIV and other diseases every time.

    I'm all for the blanket ban for being lifted. There isn't enough blood to go around.
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    (Original post by lekky)
    Currently homosexual men who have ever had gay sex are unable to donate blood. The reason for this is that they are at a greater risk than other groups of having HIV, although more than 50% of people with HIV are heterosexuals, normally of African origin.

    Despite this 7% of sexually active homosexual men regularly donate blood.

    New proposals are for homosexual men who have not had sex for more than 10 years can now donate blood. This is believed to increase the risk of HIV in the blood supply by less than 5%. The reason for the 10 year gap is apparently related to the delayed time for HIV to show up in a blood test.

    Relevant articles:

    Pink news
    Spoiler:
    Show
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/04/10/gay-blood-donation-ban-to-be-lifted-but-only-for-men-who-havent-had-sex-for-10-years/

    Gay blood donation ban to be lifted for men who haven’t had sex for 10 years

    by James Park
    10 April 2011, 10:34am


    There is currently a blanket ban on gay men donating blood

    The British government is to lift the ban on gay men giving blood, ruling that a blanket ban is discriminatory and could be in breach of the Equality Act.

    However, lifting the ban will only apply to gay men who have not had sex for ten years prior to donating blood.

    The Sunday Times reports that the change in the ban will be announced by Anne Milton, the public health minister, shortly.

    While donated blood is screened for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, a small number of infected donations are missed due to the time between infection with HIV and it being detected in blood tests.

    The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) found that a ban on gay men from giving blood if they had not had sex with another man for five years would increase the risk of blood supplies being contaminated by five per cent. Ministers were told that this risk would halve for men who had not had gay sex for ten years.

    It is estimated that seven per cent of sexually active gay men donate blood despite the current ban.

    Campaigners have long pointed out that many gay men are in monogamous relationships, practice safe sex or are celibate.

    Around 86,500 people in the UK have HIV. According to the Terrence Higgins Trust, 42 per cent are gay men and 54 per cent are heterosexuals, the majority of whom are from Africa.

    A government source told the newspaper: “A complete ban is unfair and discriminatory but we need to protect public health, so the ten-year rule is what is being considered.”

    Gay men are prevented from donating blood in a number of countries. In New Zealand, they can donate so long as they have not had gay sex for ten years. South Africa allows gay men to donate blood with a five year deferral

    SABTO also examined whether there should be a lifetime ban on heterosexuals who have had sex with someone who has had sex with anyone from a part of the world where HIV is widespread. It also examined whether the supply of blood for patients of Afro-Carribean origin should be considered.


    The Times
    Spoiler:
    Show

    Ministers are to lift the ban on gay men giving blood — but will insist they must not have had sex for 10 years before they donate.

    Anne Milton, the public health minister, is expected to announce the move soon following concerns that the existing blanket ban is discriminatory and could breach equality laws. Gay men who are or have been sexually active are banned from donating to ensure that blood contaminated with HIV does not reach patients.

    Removing the ban will be welcomed by gay rights campaigners but critics are likely to express concern that it will increase the risk of patients contracting HIV.

    Although donated blood is screened for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, a tiny number of infected donations are missed because there is a short period after infection before a test will show a positive result.

    Ministers have been advised on the move by Sabto, the advisory committee on the safety of blood, tissues and organs. It found that if the ban were replaced by a new rule preventing gay men from giving blood for five years after having sex with another man, the risk of HIV reaching the blood supply would go up by less than 5%.

    It is estimated that this figure would halve if the “deferral” period were increased to 10 years. Ministers are therefore proposing that gay men should defer becoming donors until 10 years after having gay sex.

    The current blood donation system is based on trust and there is no policing to ensure that donors abide by restrictions. At least 7% of sexually active gay men give blood despite a ban.

    Gay men are the group most at risk of passing on HIV in blood, followed by intravenous drug users. The 10-year deferral is designed to ensure that people who are not aware they have contracted HIV do not unwittingly pass it on.

    Gay rights campaigners have argued for a lifting of the ban, saying many gay men are in monogamous relationships, practise safe sex or have been celibate for years.

    In its advice to the government, Sabto warned that although the risk of passing on HIV is slight, if the ban on gay men were lifted and a significant number ignored the deferral rules, the risk of passing on HIV would increase considerably.

    An estimated 86,500 people have HIV in Britain, with a quarter unaware that they have an infection. About 42% of people infected with HIV in 2009 were gay men, with 54% being heterosexuals, almost two-thirds of whom were black African, according to the Terrence Higgins Trust, the HIV charity.

    Gay men, with the exception of those who have never been sexually active, account for 63% of HIV diagnoses where the infection was acquired in the UK.

    The advice to Anne Milton pointed out that gay men are also at risk of passing on other sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis.

    A government source said: “A complete ban is unfair and discriminatory but we need to protect public health, so the 10-year rule is what is being considered.”

    The lifting of the ban is backed by Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, and Lynne Featherstone, the minister for equality.

    The Canadian blood service recently reviewed its policy of banning sexually active gay men from donating blood and decided not to lift the ban.

    In New Zealand there is a 10-year deferral policy, while South Africa has a five-year time limit.

    The advisory committee on blood donations also looked at whether to introduce a lifetime ban on heterosexuals who have had sex with someone from a part of the world where HIV is widespread, such as sub-Saharan Africa.

    Although the experts concluded this would cut the risk of HIV getting into the blood supply, there were concerns that such a move could be perceived as racially prejudiced. It could also limit the supply of blood for patients of Afro-Caribbean origin, particularly those with sickle cell anaemia.


    Interesting article about why this is actually more homophobic from total politics
    Spoiler:
    Show

    http://www.totalpolitics.com/blog/155587/the-blood-homophobia-just-got-worse.thtmlhttp://www.totalpolitics.com/blog/155587/the-blood-homophobia-just-got-worse.thtml

    The blood homophobia just got worse
    by Caroline Crampton / 11 Apr 2011 09:46

    At first sight, it looks like a major victory for equality. But on a closer look, lifting the ban on homosexual men donating blood is another health policy that is going to backfire on the coalition

    For various health-related reasons, I’m not allowed to give blood. This has always annoyed me, and I’m slightly jealous of friends and colleagues who can, since I think it’s one of the most altruistic things you can do.

    Imagine my surprise, then, when several years ago one of my closest friends responded to my moaning about it by saying that he couldn’t either. But not for tangible, provable medical reasons like me, but because he’s that lethal combination of homosexual and sexually active.

    When I read in yesterday’s papers that public health minister Anne Milton is shortly to announce that this ludicrous ban on homosexual men giving blood is to be lifted, I was pleased that reason had finally come to the fore.

    Yes, men who have sex with men are a high risk group for HIV/AIDS. People lie about their sexual practices, their drug use and their medical history - all of which could potentially lead to infected blood ending up in the blood bank. But homosexual people are no more likely to lie about these things than heterosexual people, and to assume otherwise is unacceptable discrimination.

    Obviously, this ‘good news’ policy is being trailed now to try in some small way to distract from the high profile delays in the NHS reforms. Nice try, Milton - you aren’t going to be able to draw fire from Lansley out that easily.

    Or are you? Look at bit closer at this announcement, and you find that what is replacing the discriminatory policy is, well, quite discriminatory and will, I hope, provoke widespread outrage.

    Only homosexual men who have not had sex with a man for ten years will be permitted to donate blood. Those who are more recently sexually active will still be banned. That’s all sex, mind - responsible and protected or otherwise.

    Three years ago, Johann Hari called the ban “bloody homophobia”. He was right - it discriminates against gay men and fails to place the same trust in them as it does heterosexual people who want to give blood.

    The reason given for changing this policy is that it “might breach equality legislation”. Surely this new version doesn’t lessen that risk? Men who have safe sex with other men, including men in civil partnerships or committed relationships, are still being discriminated against.

    Blood stocks - particularly for O negative - are dipping. Huge numbers of potential donors are being excluded for no valid reason.

    That’s not just “bloody homophobic”, it’s supremely bloody homophobic, extremely discriminatory and potentially dangerous for thousands of patients in need of transfusions. The inequality has just got worse, not better.


    Thoughts?

    My thoughts (a bit jumped, I feel a bit conflicted on this).

    Although <5% seems quite high, if it's <5% then the overall increase is pretty slim. With falling levels of blood stock, and more needed, the increased risk is probably justified in the increased amount of blood that will be generated.

    This in no way will stop the 7% of sexually active homosexual men that currently donate blood from donating blood. It's quite clear that if someone wants to donate blood, then they can, and maybe it might be worth considering regular screening programmes of HIV or insisting on recent HIV check documentation rather than a blanket ban? Make it people who have not had unprotected gay sex in the last 6 months, as within this time HIV would be possible to be screened? It is also possibly easier to say "I have not had gay sex for 10 years" than "I have never had gay sex".
    I think this is wrong

    This is wrong, if someone is in a higher risk group, they shouldn't be allowed. It's not homophobic, it's logical.
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    (Original post by CombineHarvester)
    They test the blood twice, once when it is donated and once before it is given to the recipient. However, the test is 99.9% accurate so roughly 1 in 2000 samples will give a false reading after two tests. MSM (Men who have sex with men) are one of the high risk groups as well as Africans who have sex abroad in particular so maybe their blood should be tested more than twice?
    Again as I said above, the main problem is that HIV cannot be detected in the very early stages.
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    (Original post by lekky)
    Again as I said above, the main problem is that HIV cannot be detected in the very early stages.
    If over 50% of people with HIV aren't MSM then surely they should have this 'no sexual activity for x amount of time' requirement for everyone?
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    Am I missing something here? If the person donated blood which was then tested in labs to check it was clear of HIV etc. then it should be fine regardless of sexuality? Is this not the case? I honestly have no idea but I don't see why they shouldn't be able to give blood if they believe it's clean, and tests confirm this, just because they're gay.
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    Why are they banned? Isn't all blood donated screened and checked anyway ?
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    (Original post by Steevee)
    Meh. I think the ban itself is unfair. There is a small risk of such a disease, but this is far outweighed by the amount of good blood can give.

    Perhaps if we had free, and regular HIV screening? I am under the impression it's a relativley cheap process, judging by the frequency with which it's carried out in impoverished Africa.
    we do have free HIV screening and you can have it as regularly as you go ask for it.

    makes sense in to a point. but if you a woman and have sex with a man that has previously had gay sex you have to wait a certain amount of time, I think its a year, so why such a longer wait for the man. I think you also have to wait a year if you get a tattoo? so surely if HIV would show up in that length of time the extra long wait is pointless
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    If this is what the experts recommend, then it's a good decision. They know what they're talking about

    I really don't think it's an issue of discrimination or not, because frankly with something as essential as blood donations, equality needs to be put aside temporarily. Ultimately if the experts recommended keeping the ban, I would support that as somebody who is gay simply because they know far more than anybody here does, likewise they have concluded that relaxing the ban somewhat is a good idea so I support that as well.

    Basically what I'm saying is let's not change on the law according to whether it's discriminatory or not, but according to what's in everybody's best interests.
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    (Original post by .Ali.)
    I think this is wrong

    This is wrong, if someone is in a higher risk group, they shouldn't be allowed. It's not homophobic, it's logical.
    The trouble is how do you define "higher risk group"? If we eliminate all the groups that have a slightly higher infection rate we've cut out the vast majority of the population, and we have to balance up the risk of HIV with the need for blood.

    In this instance it seems the experts have said that relaxing the ban slightly is in everybody's interests, so why should we keep it? They know far more about this sort of stuff than we ever will.
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    This is so stupid.

    I used to work for the NHSBT and they test all sample blood for HIV after allowing it to develop and then keep the blood pack with the corresponding bar code in storage until they get the test results back anyway.

    I know there must be a tiny margin of error on infection testing but there really is no reason to panic about HIV rates increasing. It's a really bigoted policy as it is.
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    Can't we just ban people with aids from donating blood? By testing them and so on. Perhaps the medics can help out
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    I think its a good idea. If I needed a blood tranfusion, I would appreciate anyones blood!! x
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    I understand that there might be a risk. But why is there no 'you should not give blood if you have had unprotected sex with the last x months' on the website? It seems to suggest that if a man and a woman have unprotected sex it's ok to give blood right away but never (or now not until after 10 years) if it's two men whether or not they've used protection/had HIV screenings/neither of them have ever had sex with anyone else...

    That's not to get rid of any 'risks'. That's homophobic.
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    I just don't understand the whole thing. I would love to give blood, but simply cannot despite being completely disease free. Why can't I, and the thousands of others disease free MSMs, just be allowed to give blood if we have proof that we're healthy?
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    (Original post by tieyourmotherdown)
    The trouble is how do you define "higher risk group"? If we eliminate all the groups that have a slightly higher infection rate we've cut out the vast majority of the population, and we have to balance up the risk of HIV with the need for blood.

    In this instance it seems the experts have said that relaxing the ban slightly is in everybody's interests, so why should we keep it? They know far more about this sort of stuff than we ever will.
    Because I believe in minimising the risk whereever possible, and whilst determining high risk groups is difficult, it's clear that homosexual or bisexual men have a higher risk.

    But then again, I'm very paranoid about hospital risks due to a hospital ****-up when I was little, so I'm possibly oversensitive to the issue.
 
 
 
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