Tag Archives: blood

Would you buy a magazine laced with HIV-positive blood?


Story via the National Post

To make a big point, a small Austrian men’s magazine printed an entire edition using ink laced with HIV-positive blood. The idea, said Julian Wiehl, co-publisher of The Vangardist — a “progressive” magazine aimed at young, urban men — was to make a statement about the stigma still associated with the virus that no one could ignore.

I think you’ll agree they succeeded, wildly.

“If you see the magazine . . . the first question that comes to your mind is, ‘Would I touch it? Would I take it in my hands?’ ” Wiehl said in an interview. “And the second question is, ‘Why would I touch it?’ or ‘Why wouldn’t I touch it?’ ”

From a health and safety perspective, picking up the magazine is not a problem. As we’ve known for many years, the human immunodeficiency virus quickly dies outside the body and can only be transmitted by direct contact with body fluids, mainly blood and semen. To be doubly sure, and to kill any other pathogens, Vangardist autoclaved the HIV-positive blood obtained from three donors before mixing it with the red ink used to print the magazine. The ink used in all 3,000 copies of the printed edition is 1 part blood to 28 parts ink, Wiehl said. There also is some blue ink to highlight its “Heroes of HIV” theme.


The magazine comes in a sealed wrapper, forcing the reader to “break the seal to break the stigma,” Wiehl said. To avoid violating laws that govern transport of blood or blood products across borders, the edition can be ordered only online.

Normally, the five-year-old Vangardist puts out 10 digital issues a year aimed, Wiehl said, at young, progressive urban men who, he said, don’t fit gay or straight stereotypes. It covers health, fashion and sexuality, among other topics.

But with the Life Ball, one of the world’s biggest anti-AIDS charity events, scheduled for May in Vienna, headquarters of the Vangardist, the magazine wanted to make a statement. It came up with a special, printed issue devoted to “Heroes of HIV,” and its Geneva-based ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi suggested using HIV-positive blood in the printing process.


Three HIV-positive people — the heroes of “HIV heroes” — donated their blood for the magazine: A 47-year-old mother, a gay 26-year-old man and a 32-year-old straight man. (It didn’t take much; all the ink for the edition weighed only 2.5 kilos, or about 5.5 pounds, Wiehl said.) Two of the three donors, he pointed out, don’t fit the stereotype we immediately associate with HIV. That was another point the magazine wanted to make.

“The stigma of HIV, although we have all these medical advances, is still a hard topic,” he said.

Vangardist also wants the public to note that infections are on the rise in parts of the world, and that 30 years after the epidemic began it is still not under control.

“By fighting the stigma, we also want to fight new infections,”Wiehl said.

AIDS activists have cheered the magazine since it was announced a few days ago, Wiehl said, and sales will start May 7. Media coverage is slowly spreading across the globe.

The next time you meet someone with HIV, Vangardist hopes, you’ll already have examined your feelings about him or her, the virus and the ongoing spread of a disease that infects 35 million people around the globe.

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Victims of contaminated NHS blood launch legal case


Three men who contracted hepatitis C from contaminated imported blood have begun a legal case in the UK to challenge the compensation scheme.

They say it is unfair under disability discrimination because other patients in the same scandal have more favourable terms.

A new parliamentary report says around 7,500 patients were infected by imported blood products.

The government said it was considering improvements to the support system.

The three men, who are pursuing the case anonymously, claim the compensation scheme discriminates against them for having the hepatitis C virus, by paying them far less than patients with HIV receive.

Just under 6,000 people have been identified as having contracted hepatitis C and more than 1,500 others the virus which can lead to Aids, according to the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood.

More than 2,000 patients are thought to have died as a result of what has been called “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”.

“We believe it is clearly unlawful that one group of sufferers of a serious virus are treated differently.” – Rosa CurlingLawyer, Leigh Day

The report says thousands of people in the UK – many of them with haemophilia – were infected when they were treated with blood products imported from the US in the 1970s and 80s.

An independent inquiry report six years ago described the events as a “horrific human tragedy”.

Lawyer Rosa Curling, from the law firm Leigh Day, is representing the three men.

She told BBC News: “Both HIV and hepatitis C virus are life-threatening, life-long chronic conditions.

“These viruses both sadly have serious implications for those who carry them and, in a proportion of cases, will lead to the death of the patient.

“We believe it is clearly unlawful that one group of sufferers of a serious virus, contracted through the same NHS disaster, are treated differently on account of their disability.”

Successive governments have set up five different trusts to pay compensation to patients who were treated with the blood products.

Leigh Day says the discrimination goes beyond the lifetime of the victims, because dependents of those who die after contracting hepatitis C also receive lower payments.

The law firm has sent a detailed legal letter, asking the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to take action to correct the anomalies between the schemes.

The “letter before action” asks for a response within 14 days, before the possibility of further legal proceedings in the High Court through judicial review.

Ms Curling added: “Our clients wish to avoid litigation if this is possible.

“We want the chance to sit down with Jeremy Hunt, and obtain a commitment from him urgently to put things right.”

NHS treatment ‘devastated lives’

The APPG report highlights how most people with hepatitis C receive no ongoing payments, and they feel as though they have to beg for discretionary payments.

It recommends that payments to people infected through contaminated blood are at a level which lifts them out of poverty.

The issue is the subject of a backbench Commons debate today.

Liz Carroll, Chief Executive of the Haemophilia Society, said: “We speak to families affected by this scandal on a daily basis. Many are living in poverty, unable to pay everyday bills.

“Some live in damp conditions due to household repairs waiting to be funded, going back several years.

“Others are unable to prove they were infected by NHS treatment as their medical records are missing.

“NHS treatment devastated many lives. Now is the time to right this wrong and enable them to live with dignity.”

The Penrose Inquiry in Scotland is due to report imminently – this will be the first statutory inquiry looking into government culpability for the problem.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “This is a very serious issue and we are looking at possible improvements to the system of providing support to those affected.

“For legal reasons we are unable to comment further on this specific case.”

Story via BBC

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Gay blood: Ban by Edwin Poots ‘infected by apparent bias’

The gay blood ban, put in place during the 1980s AIDS threat, was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011.

The gay blood ban, put in place during the 1980s AIDS threat, was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011.

A former health minister’s ban on the donation of blood from gay men in Northern Ireland was “infected by apparent bias”, a court has ruled.

A judge also backed claims from lawyers for a gay man that Edwin Poots’ stance was influenced by Christian beliefs.

The High Court ruling strengthens a previous finding in October 2013that the ban was irrational.

Mr Poots, who is to appeal that ruling, was replaced as Stormont’s health minister last year.

The gay blood ban, put in place during the 1980s AIDS threat, was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011.

The minister has consistently rejected claims that his position may have been influenced by his religious views

The minister has consistently rejected claims that his position may have been influenced by his religious views

It was replaced by new rules which allow donations from gay men who had not had sexual contact with another man for more than a year.

But Mr Poots maintained the prohibition in Northern Ireland on the basis of ensuring public safety.

The minister has consistently rejected claims that his position may have been influenced by religious views.

But lawyers for the gay man who brought the challenge, introduced remarks made by Mr Poots in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The DUP MLA was recorded as saying: “There is a continual battering of Christian principles, and I have to say this – shame on the courts, for going down the route of constantly attacking Christian principles, Christian ethics and Christian morals, on which this society was based and which have given us a very good foundation.”

The judge cited a news article from 2001 in which Mr Poots spoke of the rights of those receiving donations to be told they were getting “clean blood” uncontaminated by the HIV virus.

He added: “The minister’s very troubling lack of candour and his attempt to conceal the fact that he had made a decision are plainly circumstances that are material to whether a fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias.”

via BBC News

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UK Government to consider study to allow gay, monogamous couples to donate blood


The British Government is considering whether to conduct a study into whether gay or bisexual men in monogamous, same-sex relationships should still have to wait 12 months after having sex to donate blood.

Michael Fabricant, the Conservative MP for Lichfield, introduced a Private Member’s Bill last year calling for the gay blood ban to be removed.

Just before Christmas, Mr Fabricant met with Public Health Minister Jane Ellison, and members of the Scientific Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues, and Organs (SaBTO), to discuss the possibility of a study into whether men in monogamous, same-sex relationships, could be exempt from the 12-month deferral period men who have sex with men (MSM) are currently subject to.

PinkNews has seen copies of correspondence between a highly-respected, award-winning NHS haematologist and Mr Fabricant. The doctor asked to remain anonymous, but called for more research to be done.

He wrote to Mr Fabricant: “I am a practicing haematologist, and therefore transfusion matters form a substantial part of my daily NHS work. The National Blood Service is an incredible, world leading, pioneering and hugely impressive organisation, for which I have enormous respect. It has made the UK probably the safest country in the world in which to receive a blood transfusion. It has moved with new challenges, threats and scientific developments and its training and guidelines are unrivalled internationally. However the matter of excluding gay men from transfusion, and the bizarre compromise of insisting on abstinence for a year prior to any donation, is prejudicial, illogical and reinforces a social stigma that has in other areas been reduced enormously, such as an area for which I understand you have campaigned – gay marriage.”

He continued to say that he had written to the chair of the European Committee on Blood Transfustion, and to the UK Blood Transfusion Services’ Joint Professional Advisory Committee, but that he received no response addressing the concerns.

Jane Ellison responded to Mr Fabricant: “As was agreed at the meeting, I will write to Public Health England regarding the possibility of designing a study to see if it is possible to set blood donor deferral criteria specifically for a sub-population at a different level to the current 12 month deferral for all MSM. We also discussed the forthcoming NHSBT blood donor survey, the results of which are expected to be published early next year and which may provide additional useful information to reflect upon.

“I would emphasise, as I did when I met with you on 1 December, that this is not based on sexual orientation but sexual behaviour… “

Mr Fabricant told PinkNews; “At the meeting with the Minister and the SaBTO who advise the Blood Transfusion Service, it became clear that their decisions are based on understandable caution but lack authoritative data. No research has been done on the incidence of HIV or Hepatitis infection amongst gay couples in a monogamous relationship. I am now calling on the Department of Health to commission this research as a matter of urgency. It is in the interests of recipients of blood as well as the need to prevent unwarranted discrimination, as there is a shortage of donors, that this be undertaken without further delay.

“Research currently underway – referred to by the minister in her letter – will not be available until April or May and, in any event, only applies to the general cohort of gay or bisexual men or as the Department of Health quaintly put it: Men who have sex with Men, MSM.  It does not include research on gay men in a monogamous relationship.

“I was particularly annoyed by SaBTO officials who when confronted by me asking how might it be clinically possible for monogamous gay couples to become infected, they replied asking how can either partner be trusted to tell the truth of their sexual behaviour to Transfusion officials? When I responded saying that the same might be said of straight blood donors, no reply was forthcoming. There is clearly a mind-set driven by understandable caution and public safety on the one hand, and downright prejudice on the other. This is particularly relevant now that we’ve had a number of years of Civil Partnerships and more recently same-sex marriage.

“It clearly makes no scientific or medical sense for a promiscuous straight man to be a blood donor while a monogamous loving gay couple may not.”

Ed Miliband last week called for a review of the blood ban, which stops sexually active gay and bisexual men from giving blood.

Last month, the FDA in the US announced that a permanent ban on MSM donating blood should end, in favour of a 12-month deferral system similar to England, Wales and Scotland.

Northern Ireland maintains a permanent ban on MSM blood donation, as the DUP consistently block all attempts to reform the measure.

via PinkNews

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