AIDS: What the Government Isn't Telling You
by Lorraine Day, M.D.
(Part 4)

In the last installment, the concept that the donor can be relied 
on to be careful not to donate blood when he knows he himself has 
been infected with the AIDS virus was introduced. Dr. Day delves 
further into this myth in a chapter called "The Myth of Self- 
Deferral". This concept of self-deferral may have influenced the 
fact that, although a test was available for detecting AIDS 
antibodies by 1985, testing of donors blood was not *required* 
until 1988. As included excerpts from an article in the 
*Philadelphia Inquirer* point out,

  The FDA did not require an AIDS test on donated blood until 
  January 5, 1988, almost three years after the first test for 
  detecting AIDS antibodies in blood came into use in March 

  Between 1987 and 1988, the number of recalls of suspect 
  blood almost tripled.

  For at least a year, people who had tested positive for the 
  deadly AIDS virus were allowed to walk the streets of 
  Philadelphia without knowing it. They had sold their blood 
  plasma to the Community Bank and Plasma Center... The Center 
  tested the blood for the AIDS virus and until 1987 notified 
  in writing anyone who tested positive, according to a 
  company executive. But that year, the Center stopped mailing 
  these notifications after a city-funded AIDS group objected 
  to the way it was being done.

  There is no federal regulation requiring blood banks to 
  notify donors who test positive for AIDS. The Food and Drug 
  Administration, the federal agency responsible for the 
  safety of the American blood supply, recommends notifying 
  donors but leaves the decision up to the blood banks and 
  plasma centers.

  From March 1988 to March 1989, blood banks and commercial 
  plasma centers had to recall nearly 100,000 blood components 
  and medicines made from blood that had been erroneously 
  released, FDA records show.

  In this marketplace, blood, a vital resource, gets less 
  government protection than grapes or poultry or pretzels. 
  Dog kennels in Pennsylvania are inspected more frequently 
  than blood banks. {1}.

"Self-deferral", in practice, means that potential donors are 
asked a barrage of sometimes obtuse questions (e.g. "Have you 
engaged in prostitution since 1977 or had sex within the last 12 
months with someone who has *even once*?") to screen out those 
who may be already infected with HIV. Dr. Day gives other reasons 
why the screening of potential donors does not inspire 

--* Work places may put pressure on people to donate blood who 
should not have to do so.

--* Some corporations offer perks for donating blood.

--* The self-deferral form is hard to read.

--* Previously mentioned, "blood terrorism"; i.e., willingly 
infecting the blood supply.

Dr. Day explores the money factor behind the reluctance to make 
improvements in the current setup. "There are vested interests" 
and "there is money to be made".

Hang on. It gets worse. What about bone banks, semen banks, and 
tissue and organ transplant banks? The first CDC guidelines for 
bone banks weren't even written until August 1988. Why the delay? 
"Every doctor in the world knows that the substance that 
nourishes a bone is blood. Did it not dawn on you," asked Dr. 
Day, "that if blood transmitted HIV, then bone, semen, connective 
tissue, tendons and all organs should also transmit HIV?"

"Well," replied the "experts", "we've never seen it happen."

"The consensus in that CDC room was sheer textbook AIDSpeak: *to 
infer transmission without evidence would have been unwarranted 
and highly suspect speculation unworthy of this august 
fellowship*." In other words, since it has not yet been proven, 
they aren't going to worry about it.

--------------------------<< Notes >>----------------------------
{1} Quotes from the *Philadelphia Inquirer*, Sept. 24-28, Five- 
part series on Blood Banks, Gilbert M. Gaul, Reporter.