Stupid Blood People

So last month I, for the first time, gave blood.

I was really excited about it. I felt like I was doing something really good. The actual process didn’t bother me much at all (well, except the 2 hour line). I decided that I would donate again as soon as possible.


Today I got a letter in the mail from HémaQuébec (the blood bank here). It explained that there were general screening tests, but if you tested positive for one, they’d do a confirmation test.

So, on my screening test, I tested positive for syphilis :eek:. Of course, on the confirmation test, the result was negative.

Let’s review: I’ve slept with one person in my entire life, and I’ve been with him for a year and a half. He gave blood the same day as I did, and he didn’t get a letter. I don’t have syphilis. But now I’m mildly worried. They’re gonna send the results to my doctor so she can decide whether to do the test again.

And to top it all off, though they have told me I don’t have anything, I’m no longer eligible to give blood. I can never donate again.


And eventually, nobody will be allowed to give blood; and at that point, the blood system will be perfectly safe. As a gay person who for that reason obviously has AIDS, I feel your pain.

WTF??? I mean, even if you did have syph, they’d give you a shot in the butt and you’re cured! Its not like hepatitis Q or Z that stays with you for the rest of your life. Christ, if they prohibited everyone who’d ever gotten an STD in their life from donating blood, there’d probably be only a handful of people who could donate. The fact that you don’t have anything makes it even more mindnumbingly stupid!

I read recently that Canada is entering a crisis, in a cople of years, there will no longer be enough blood to support the patients.

For goodness sake, I’m 19, I was willing to give blood, what, every 3, 4 months, for how many years?

And syphilis?!?!

I hope they’ll conclude that you don’t have syphilis, and you’ll get to give blood. I’m not allowed to donate either, and it drives me nuts. Every time the blood donation clinic gets set up on campus I ask again, and I always get refused, of course. Until they find a way to test for the BSE/CJD prions, theres just no way to know if I have them, from having lived in Europe for 3 years, with frequent visits to France, and once to England and Ireland. I hope they find out a way to know for sure, because I do want to donate if I can. Hopefully your little mix-up will be cleared up soon!

They’ve already concluded that I don’t have it. I quote (bolding not mine):

This is a really big downer for me.

On the one hand, I can understand their caution. The Red Cross and independent bloodbank organization got major, major flak in the early years of the AIDS crisis for passing contaminated blood and infecting patients (hemophiliacs, mostly). The (increasingly) long(er) list of conditions which disqualify blood donors is the procedural equivalent of a nervous flinch.

On the other hand, the way they go about it is flawed and discriminatory. Rather than using the test results of the individual blood donations (which they’re required to do anyway), they just blanket ban whole groups of people: gays, Haitians (I believe), people with curable STDs…they’re slowly painting themselves into a corner where only 60+ year-old white Mormon females will be allowed to give blood. I doubt there’s enough blood volume in all of Utah from that particular group to cover need.


I know this sucks, LaurAnge. I think that the reason is mainly economics. You see, the tests that they test everybody’s blood with are probably the cheapest, fastest, tests for those diseases. However, there is something in your blood that gives a false positive on the cheap, fast test for syphilis, but does not give a false positive for the more expensive confirmation test. Therefore, it has been determined that you do not have syphilis. However, you have something else in your blood that could possibly fail the first syphilis test every single time you donate. Therefore, every single time you donate, they would have to do the second test as well. They don’t want to do that–it’s expensive.

They also don’t want that blood recipient to get a syphilis test sometime down the road, falsely test positive, and cause all kinds of trouble for many people, including the blood bank.

What really sucks is that syphilis is usually easily cured, wheras “something harmless in your blood that triggers a false positive on the first syphilis test” probably isn’t. So, while a person who actually has syphilis could be cured and donate again (probably), you can’t donate unless you figure out and eliminate what is causing the false positive on this test.

It does suck. It’s not quite the same as the “you are gay–you must have AIDS” thing, though.

Excuse the interruption please.

Syphilis is caused by a gram negative bacterium, Treponema pallidum, not a virus.

matt_mcl writes,

Yeah, and since it was okay and perfectly acceptable to donate blood after I had sex with those two guys until they started sleeping with each other also…me too.

Corr, who thinks the idea of spontaneously generating STD’s is about the stupidest thing she’d ever heard, until this last bit about testing positive for syph…

Are you sure you’re permanently banned?

Several years ago, I was notified that my blood had tested positive for the hepatitis core antigen. After receiving that positive reading on the (cheap) screening test, they then went ahead and did the more specific (and more expensive) hepatitis test, which was negative.

They tossed out that particular donation, but I’ve probably donated almost a gallon since then. They have said that they’d refuse me as a pheresis donor, but they still like me just fine as a whole blood donor.

… but one cause of a false positive test for syphilis is lupus (and allied conditions).

Starting in about 1990 (it could have been earlier than that) and continuing for a few years, my dad & mom had to be repeatedly tested for HIV, Hep A,B,C and whole host of other things, because in about 1983 dad received about 15 units of blood (in about 30 minutes - he was bleeding ALOT). Of course that blood hadn’t really been screened in any meaningful way, so there was the chance he had contracted who knows what.

There were a lot of people in the same boat as my mom and dad. Dad was lucky, he tested negative for everything. Other people were not so lucky.

I used to be a volunteer for the Red Cross, and I know that the screening procedures are extreme, and offensive to some people (Particularly WWII vets that have been donating since 1942, and are now asked if they’ve ever traded sex for drugs or money…). That being said, I have to support Canadian Blood Service’s decision to err on the side of caution, even if it’s WAY on the side of caution.

It’s still a drag for you though, LaurAnge.


Wow, I had never thought of that, and it makes perfect sense.

However, it seems that they should explain this to donors like LaurAnge–it’s less insulting and seems less arbitrary and pointless than the conclusion one naturally draws without this information.

It’s a great statement about Dopers that the statement ‘I can’t donate blood.’ is always followed by ‘I’m very sad I can no longer provide transfusions for strangers.’.

That kind of generosity almost restores my faith in humanity, only the banning of Kenny G can restore it fully though.
To blood-donors, and those who want to donate but can not-

I give you an ASCII salute
   (Or I would if I could draw one)

and also (for only the second time ever)
the e-hug
((((((((Your Name Here))))))))
My first 2 e-hugs in one morning, I feel strangely dirty.