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16 Jan 2006

Latest developments on the blood donating story
Hi everyone -

The drama related to gay men donating blood continues to unfold. Following is a statement issued by Triangle Project this morning:

"There are two issues currently being reported in the news media related to gay men donating blood. The first pertains to the question of whether gay men should be allowed to donate blood. The second relates to a statement issued by the GLA (Gay and Lesbian Alliance) that they had instructed gay men to donate blood en-masse with the inferred intent of undermining the screening processes of the South African National Blood Service. The GLA subsequently claimed that 65% of these donors didn’t know their HIV status and that one had full-blown AIDS. This culminated in a media frenzy with some newspapers reporting, hysterically, on a “blood war”.

The GLA has a long history of issuing frequent “press releases” that range from controversial to bizarre. The so-called organisation does not have an address or a land-line phone number and all previous efforts to meet with the GLA have failed. There is no evidence to suggest that the GLA consists of more than one attention-hungry individual with a fax machine and a cell phone. Reputable gay organisations in South Africa have frequently distanced themselves from the GLA and, with time, the news media have learnt to disregard the GLA’s statements.

However, several elements of the news media chose to print to GLA’s latest bizarre statements as fact without authenticating the story. This sensational journalism has culminated in substantial harm in that it has undermined the public’s faith in the safety of the national blood supply and has discredited the gay community as being militant and highly irresponsible, to the point of attempting to wilfully undermine public health. In truth, it is the news media that has been highly irresponsible by quoting fiction as fact.

We express concern that the media is responsible for further marginalization of the gay community in a manner that could perpetuate further discrimination, abuse and violence against gay people.

We again call on the news media to refrain from responding to the GLA’s bizarre statements, and in this instance we call for an investigation into why editors chose to present fiction as fact.

We also call on the news media to ensure balanced and reasonable coverage of topical issues affecting the gay community in South Africa.

We call on editors to ensure that their sensational reporting of the GLA’s latest statement does not contaminate reasonable discussion on whether gay men should be allowed to donate blood in South Africa.

We call on the news media to further investigate the GLA and expose the truth behind this so-called organisation.

We call on the South African National Blood Service to explore criminal charges against all persons who have claimed to have been involved in attempting to undermine the safety of the national blood pool."
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Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert
Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert

01 Jan 0001

You can also read a very interesting article on the issue - the media's response to the GLA - at http://www.mambaonline.com/article.asp?artid=150 and see a letter on the GLA on news24.com at http://www.news24.com/News24/Letters/0,,2-122_1863746,00.html
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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