The other day I had a rare, brief moment of stillness (my train was delayed and I didn’t have any reading material), and two distinct yet related points kept nagging me in the back of my mind.
I had just received my (quite frequent) letter reminding me that it had been a while since my last blood donation, and wouldn’t it be great if I would show up to my nearest location this coming week? Well actually, I would love to but I can’t.
Why on earth can’t you give blood?
You see, since the beginning of 2010, unless you receive acupuncture from a statutorily regulated healthcare professional, you will have to have a four month gap after the last acupuncture treatment before you can give blood. This is a distinctly different interpretation on the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations 2005, where it simply states that deferral applies unless the acupuncture is given by a “suitably qualified professional”.
As a member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), I am a qualified professional, but as acupuncture is not yet regulated in the UK, I am not a statutorily regulated healthcare professional. This means that my patients cannot give blood, but thousands of healthcare professionals with no proven training in safe practice could now use acupuncture at will, and their patients could donate blood without any guarantees of hygienic procedure.
This is not, in any way, a swipe at the many healthcare professionals who have trained and practice acupuncture properly. However the fact of the matter is that there are many regulated therapies that do not include sterile and hygienic procedures. This simplistic definition of the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations 2005 is most unfortunate.
Of course, you may say, my patients can still donate blood after the four month deferral period. Well yes, but that would still rule out the people who have regular treatments or even seasonal maintenance sessions every 2 – 3 months.
At a time when there is so much publicity over shortages of blood donations.
Another separate group that cannot give blood are homosexuals. The main point I can see is that as practicing gay men, they cannot ever guarantee that they will never ever come into contact with HIV.
I, like all of you, take my personal health very seriously and I’m glad that all possible precautions are taken to ensure we don’t ever receive contaminated blood. However, it is absolutely unfair that a responsible gay man in a longstanding relationship cannot donate blood ever (not just after a four month deferral) but a heterosexual who has unprotected sex with a personal who’s sexual history is unknown can still wander in to the nearest blood center and be a donor.
Aids and disease don’t care about sexual orientation and I think new regulations should reflect that sentiment.
It’s all about buying red products now.
Which brings me to sexual education and the taboo of Aids and HIV.
During the eighties and nineties, public awareness for Aids and HIV was around every corner. Who did not have to sit in class and watch that Matthew Modine movie documenting the emergence of Aids in America? We were all scared of getting infected with this life altering virus that was so preventable.
So what happened? Three decades later, there are still people who think Aids is only confined to the homosexual community. Many young people (and some not so young) disregard condoms because their partners are on the pill (or another form of oral contraception). Pregnancy has come to the frontline and Aids skirts about in the shadows infecting more of the unaware.
I was promised as a child that Aids and HIV could be beaten. But now it just seems to be a reason to buy red coloured products, and this thought is quite soul-destroying.
If you can, please go to the nearest venue and donate blood.
December 1 is World Aids Day.
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