When you thought you could, you didn’t want to and now that you can’t?

Have you ever been in a situation where when you could do something you didn’t want to or but once the ability to do it was taken away it became a big deal?

That’s human nature for you, I guess.

A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine asked if I wanted to go with her to donate blood. I am much better about giving blood (for blood tests as a part of my annual checkup) now than I used to be, but sitting there and giving blood when I have a choice not to? That has never been my “thing”. However, I told my colleague to bring me back a pamphlet and perhaps the next time she was going I’d come along.

Now I know if I do go with her next time, it’ll be as a cheerleader: it turns out my blood is no good. Why? Because I lived in Nigeria after 1977 (I lived there between 1982 and 1985). I haven’t called to find out why this rule is in effect, but under the category of the pamphlet entitled HIV Virus Risks, it says:

There are certain things that people do that put them at risk for getting and spreading the HIV virus. You are at risk if:
• You are a male who has had sex with another male, since 1977
• You have used a needle to inject illegal drugs into yourself
• You have taken money or drugs for sex, since 1977
• You regularly receive blood products
• You were born in or have lived in any of the countries listed here since 1977: Cameroon, Central African
Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, Nigeria

Now don’t get me wrong: I prefer that the Canadian Blood Services err on the side of caution with respect to the criteria affecting the blood they will accept. There have been blood tainting situations in the past that have led to deaths or the accidental spread of disease so I’d rather they not allow people who might introduce the possibility of disease rather than allowing everyone and trusting their technology to catch and remove any undesirable blood-borne diseases.

The only thing that irritates me is the part of the paragraph that says “There are certain things that people do that put them at risk for getting and spreading the HIV virus.” I bristle because I don’t think living or being born in any of the listed countries should be put in the same category as the other points, especially the first three. The first three points are things that people choose to do; you don’t choose where you’re born or live (at least as a child) and in the case of the fourth point, I’m sure those people receiving blood products aren’t choosing to receive them; it’s a necessity. I would prefer if they separated this section into two parts, with the first three points separated from the last two, and I’d likde them to include an introductory paragraph, briefly explaining why the African countries listed seem to have an increased risk of HIV, and also explaining why 1977 was chosen.

Anyways, I’ll call this week and find out, and get back to you. For those living outside of Nigeria, does the country you live in have similar blood donation criteria?

22 thoughts on “When you thought you could, you didn’t want to and now that you can’t?

  1. well… won't seriously sweat it if i were you.. its def not worth the effort……Yeah.. there's a good feel factor about giving blood with the whole humanitarian slant thing.. erm… maybe some explanation would help to soothe jangled nerves tho.. like why nigeria is there while some other countries with as high (or even higher) HIV incidence rates are not on……..Moot point maybe i guess….

  2. u no the otehr day another blogger was talking about the same thing!

    i think in the U.K it is similar except they don't actually single out countries like that. That is SO WRONG. Yes HIV is most pervelant in Africa but i can't for the life of me figure out why they have singled out these countries as the main hotspots are in southern africa. In terms of pervelance Nigeria is low on the list compared to other countries. people always seem to forget countries like India and south east asia.

    it is a shame they single out africans like that.. The down side is that a lot of people who are not african are being missed becasue they are not getting tested. So now many of the cases of advanced disease being seen in the U.K are not from african but white heterosexual peoples.

    I could go on and on about this as stuff like this irks me to the highest levels…. but i won't so you will not ban me from your site!!

    Cameroon, Central African

    Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, Nigeria

  3. Mscheeeewwww…pls call them and update us jare…

    I agree with you, I guess nobody has ever taken it up…I think you should if you can…enjoy your week!!!

  4. It's typical. Blanket generalizations and biases. South Africa has a ridiculous HIV rate, yet they're not singled out as well. Why? Oh that's right, there are lots of white people there, its probably safe.

    *eye roll*

    Keep your blood jare.

  5. yea, they do that in the UK, but they don't even single out certain countries (not sure which is worse?)… I'd love to say their loss, but it's us that feel dehumanised. everyone else seems oblivious.

  6. saw this on someone elses blog…can't remember who..

    My dear, I was happy cos it means I now have a legal reason not to give blood…but its wrong the way they listed it cos they can do tests to see if the person is healthy or not…

    infact that is the one thing that has stopped me from going, I dont want any stories…

  7. its a bit non-chalant to say cos of all these reason…i no go donate blood cos thennu would not be contributing to the betterment of the whole whole race….is betterment correct english?????

  8. yeah they do that in my school too. I think it has a thing to do with the vaccines we take in NIgeria and then the diseases we have in those countries like polio, measles, small pox and stuff

  9. I like figures and facts.

    As at 2006, according to UN:


    The United States of America has one of

    the largest HIV epidemics in the world, with

    an estimated 1.2 million [720 000–2.0 million]

    people living with HIV in 2005 (UNAIDS,



    Of the estimated 58 000 [48 000–68 000] people

    living with HIV in 2005….


    Nigeria still has the largest epidemic in African

    subregion. Although the percentage of adults

    infected with HIV (an estimated 3.9% [2.3%–5.6%]

    in 2005) is smaller than many other sub-Saharan

    African countries (notably in East and southern

    Africa), the country’s large population means that

    almost 3 million……


  10. i saw this on another blog the other day!i think Sugarbelly

    i thought them not taking blood from african countries was about Malaria..but now they r taking it to far!HIV? because you live in a country where HIV rate is high then its likely that everyone that lives there has it..or what?.as in what the fuck…if thats the case then no one is eligible to give blood since we all live in places where there is HIV..once again we are being singled out for an epidemic that affects the whole world is..once again Africa is labeled the dark continent..the story of our lives

  11. yeah, but here the rule applies for if you have recently traveled to Nigeria – or at least that is what I have been told. for that reason, I have never been able to donate blood – though I never associated this rule with HIV in particular. thought it had to do with possibly malaria or something of that nature

  12. wow…that's interesting. What a total stupid way of writing things. I think it's so wrong to single out countries like that, esp. connecting that first sentence with the last point. It's like insinuating anyone from the mentioned countries has HIV. Very easy for people to misinterpret anyways… And joining the others – why not South Africa? Annoying..I think they have the same thing here but again not writing the names of countries. I'd like to hear the update on this.

  13. It's not racism. Everyone wants to get hyped without understanding the liability that hospitals carry doing blood donations. There are non African countries banned from blood donations because of concerns for CJD (mad cow disease).

    Also, on every blood donation, they sample the blood for infectious diseases anyway. However, the most common type of HIV is HIV- M subtype. Certain pockets of Africa, including Nigeria, have an HIV O subtype that not all hospitals and blood banks test for. So you could possibly be unknowingly HIV positive and it doesn't show during the lab testing because they weren't screening fo rthat subtype.

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