Singing Loudly: Stuck in the 90's With You

Singing Loudly

Friday, May 06, 2005

Stuck in the 90's With You

From Liz's blog I see that the FDA is trying to ban gay men from being able to donate sperm because of the threat of AIDs. For some reason it's not at all surprising to see that the FDA is still stuck in the 80's with their knowledge of AIDs. I guess that we shouldn't be surprised that a federal agency under Bush has no real care to use science. It's unfortunate that it has to come through with such clear prejudice.

UPDATE: Wonkette thinks Dylan is silly...

From Wonkette:

FDA wants sperm banks to start profiling donor spunk. No swarthy gay spunk allowed. Recklessly promiscuous straight spunk okay.

In my opinion you have three choices:

(1) Ask the men if they are gay;
(2) Ask the men if they have a lot of risky sex (such as anal); or
(3) Make sure everyone is tested for AIDs.

I'm thinking there are two of those where the men could lie to make a few bucks. As a matter of "economics" Dylan would go for the one that encourages men to lie and potentially have more newborns infected with AIDs at birth. In lieu of the option that would catch AIDs at all stops.

I'm not sure the analysis part should be included with economic analysis if this is as good as it gets.


Um... The chart shows that homosexual contact is still responsible for about 4 times as many new AIDS cases as heterosexual contact. Even if we allow a very generous 10% of the population might be gay, gays are about 35 times as likely to get AIDS as heteros. If you go with 3-4% it's well over 100 times.

Is that the science Bush should consider? Or are you suggesting that some process used on donated semen eliminates the AID virus from being passed on through artificial insemination?

Anyway, it's obvious that gays pose a much greater risk, and given that HIV tests don't work until a few months after screening, it's entirely possible this is a cost/benefit justified regulation. I don't happen to think it's necessary - mandatory disclosure would work. Gays could still donate, but I imagine no one would take the risk if informed of it. Result - greater fear of gays. A blanket ban is actually better.

Do you object to the ban on donating blood for certain at risk groups? Why or why not?

By Blogger Dylan, at 9:32 AM, May 06, 2005  

Aren't you a libertarian? Why not allow the donation clinics to decide whether or not they want to accept sperm from homosexuals? This shouldn't be a government thing at all. Private individuals decide they want to donate sperm and private individuals decide they want to become impregnanted by that sperm. I think that's completely different than blood donations where blood transfusions are often administered without your concsious knowledge.

It's funny how when it comes to regulating against gay people many libertarians are more than willing to turn a complete 180.

By Blogger Curtis, at 4:06 PM, May 06, 2005  

I'm not that libertarian, and I'm in favor of the rare economically justified government rule. This looks like it could be one.

Do you think it will help the cause of gay acceptance to give informed consent to the turkey bastee in the form of: "Knowing that gay men are [30-100] times as likely as heterosexual men to have HIV, and with the most modern tests it takes [X] months after infection to detect, would you like to use this gay man's sperm?" I don't think so.

Looking at blood transfusion "requirments" (I think they don't really screen), they look pretty out of date and overprotective. I'm not sure this is.

By Blogger Dylan, at 6:51 PM, May 06, 2005  

You're making negative sense. Banning is not a necessary option. If the government really feels the need to step in here they could do say that for all donars you have to have AIDs testing done. The men who want to donate can donate the sperm then go and pay for their own AIDs test. The sperm would be held conditionally until an authorized AIDs test result is prepared and certified.

It makes negative sense to do an complete banning. Remember that what we're talking about here is sperm testing Dylan. It's not necessary for anyone to have sperm in order to live. This is entirely optional for all parties. This is a private venture between consenting adults. The FDA needs to spend a little more time making sure my turkey isn't rotten and less time worrying about what gay guys are up to.

By Anonymous Curtis, at 8:46 PM, May 06, 2005  

AIDS testing can't identify infections within several months of the testing date. You can't eliminate the risk through testing. The FDA has determined that the statistical risk of this vis a vis gay men is unjustified by the benefits, given a perfect substitute that is a couple of orders of magnitude safer in the form of heterosexual donations.

You're right that a ban isn't necessary in the sense that FULL disclosure would work just as well.

"We can't guarantee in of our donors didn't get HIV in the last six months, even though we test all of our samples. Gay men are 100 times as likely as heteros to contract HIV, although there's only about a 1/1000 chance that a gay donation has undetected HIV. You can have this sperm from a gay donor, or we can substitute that of a straight, reducing the risk of undetected HIV to 1/100000. Which do you want?"

Why waste time on this song and dance? The small but nonnegligible risk is about 100 times as great for gays. There is absolutely no extra benefit to the recipient by risking this. Anyone fully informed will never choose to take a donation from a gay man except for irrational reasons. Let's just save time and ban.

By Blogger Dylan, at 8:47 AM, May 08, 2005  

Dylan, the next time on your blog that you begin your typical whining about Democrats wanting government intervention, I will gently remind you that whenever it's Republicans wanting intervention in private markets (even when it's something as frivolous as SPERM) you parade around with whatever song and dance they tell you. Not even stopping to think for yourself but dancing to whatever appauling tune they give you. Credibility is the question.

By Anonymous Curtis, at 11:21 AM, May 08, 2005  

You've entirely lost it. You might find me claiming government shouldn't ban, say, DDT because it's not really all that harmful if toddlers gargle it, but you won't hear me say government should never regulate such things. It's a matter of economic efficiency. Most government, including all redistribution, is wasteful. Some regulation, at least in theory, is most certainly not. The EPA shouldn't permit old tires to be disposed of through burning, the FAA shouldn't permit guns on planes (not for the risk they might shoot another passenger, but because they could bring the entire plane down), and maybe the FDA shouldn't permit this. (I'm modestly in favor of seat belt rules, too.)

Your position seems to be that any amount of hurt feelings justifies putting an increased risk on the public. You'd be better off arguing the costs of this rule (hurt feelings) don't justify the benefits (a reduced risk of accidental HIV infections). How many outraged people are worth how many infections in your calculus? Please take into account that the outraged will not pay the price for overturning the rule - someone else gets to do that. But I'm sure they'll understand.

By Blogger Dylan, at 6:17 PM, May 08, 2005  

First Dylan, I don't make cost benefit arguments because I think that most economic arguments are bullshit. I know that you also bow at the feet of anything economics because it makes the world an easier place for you to be cruel in. If that's what gets you through a sad life then have at it.

Second, in case you weren't aware of why this isn't about being gay, perhaps I will have to explain sexual intercourse to you. The higher rates are the result of anal sex. It isn't just gay men who have higher rates of HIV/AIDs, it's anyone who engages in anal sex with multiple partners. That is the reason it is also bullshit to single out gay men.

Why does the FDA just no choice to regulate an area that is very minor, an area where the parents are meticulous in their decision of who the donor will be, and where it won't make any substantive changes? Because being tough on gays is the easy way for conservatives to get more votes. That is what I find appauling.

By Anonymous Curtis, at 9:19 PM, May 08, 2005  


Incidentally, lying isn't a concern because there are tort remedies to dissuade that sort of thing. The problem is accidental donations when the donor doesn't know he has HIV (before viral load is high enough to detect in a test)and therefore you can't properly hold him to account - he wasn't negligent, and didn't perform a willful wrong. On the other side, the recepient can't avoid this risk, either. Conclusion - avoid the risk entirely via a ban.

By Blogger Dylan, at 12:22 PM, May 09, 2005  

Then you ban anyone who has anal sex.


It's not about being gay it's about risky sexual activity. You still haven't made an argument (let alone a convincing one) that anal sex between a male and female who are promiscuous isn't also very risky. What your arguing is for a result that only cures a little bit of the problem. That is ridiculous.

By Anonymous Curtis, at 2:33 PM, May 09, 2005  

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