Wednesday, February 25, 2009

more on gay blood donors

A few months back, I posted about the existence of gay blood donors, at least in the General Social Survey.
Now, I have more information from a more authoritative source, with fewer obvious data problems.

The National Health And Nutrition Survey (NHANES) has been periodically conducted, recently on a two year basis.
By combining several surveys together (1988-1994, 1999-2000, 2001-2002, 2003-2004 & 2005-2006), I was able to look at a reasonable number of sexual minority males' blood donation histories in comparison to heterosexual males.

Like GSS, you can break down sexual orientation in different ways in these datasets, each way yields slightly different sample sizes.

sexual orientation identity
Among 75 men who say they are gay, 2 (3%) said that they donated blood in the previous year, and 2 of 56 men who said they were bisexual did (4%), while 214 of 3,873 heterosexually-identifying men gave blood in the previous year (6%).

men who have had sex with men
Among 65 men who have only had sex with men, 2 (3%) said they donated blood in the previous year. 5 of 264 men who had sex with men and women (2%) said they gave blood. 667 of 9,560 men (7%) who have never had sex with a man gave blood.

men who have had sex with a man in the last year
It's one thing for a man who had sex with another man a long time ago to give blood, it's another thing to consider recent sexual activity. Of 117 men who say they had had sex with a man in the last year, 2 said they gave blood (2%), while 209 of 3,626 men who said they had not had sex with a man in the last year did (6%).

Banning gay men isn't working
These figures suggest that the US ban on blood donations from any man who has had sex with a man since 1978 is not working, and should therefore be re-worked in order to create a more sensible donation policy. One that doesn't feel discriminatory. One that doesn't encourage lying. One that isn't so ridiculous that it brings other more reasonable exclusions into doubt. One that doesn't conflate homosexuality with risk.

The numbers from these surveys are more credible than the ones I got from the GSS, which showed an implausibly high rate of blood donations regardless of sexual orientation.
NHANES is based on an in-person survey (the NHANES people literally drive up to your house with an 18-wheeler containing a mobile medical examination center), rather than the random digit dialing of the GSS.

My interest in pulling these data together is merely to document the existence of gay/bi blood donors, and that it is not an especially rare phenomenon, not to say exactly how many gay/bi men donate blood (or straight men for that matter). For that, we'd need even larger samples...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Proud of my grandfathers...

So, the other day I heard about the boost in wind power that's likely to come about as part of the stimulus. I figure that GE's turbines are probably likely to be heavily favored in the US now matter how they stack up to the turbines from Denmark & Spain.
I had a faint memory that my grandfather had something to do with turbines at GE, so I called my mom, and she confirmed that her dad worked at GE in Schenectady as a turbine inspector, doing the final inspections on these enormous pieces of equipment before they got shipped out.
So, finally something to be proud about GE for, despite decades of harsh layoffs that severely affected my extended family in upstate NY.

A little more about my mom's dad. He arrived in the US as an infant in the arms of a single mother from Krakov, Poland just before the turn of the 20th century. I'm not sure how he and his wife met, but they settled on a small subsistence farm in Schohaire county, outside Albany/Schenectady, that my uncle continues to maintain to this day.
They raised eight children on that farm, my granddad working nights at the GE plant inspecting turbines, and working days on the farm with his wife and kids.
Somehow, they managed to keep all those kids fed and clothed, no mean feat in itself, but their proudest achievement was sending each and every one of those kids through college.
And now I'm teaching college. Pretty dang cool.

So, my mom and dad met while teaching at Ithaca High School, where they both started teaching after college. My dad was also a crew coach at Cornell, but that's another story.

His dad was a chemical salesman for Monsanto for most of his life, towards the end of his career he got into training other chemical salesmen. He was for a brief period the head of the New England Chemical Club, who used to invite various of the Red Sox out to their dinners and watch them make asses of themselves getting drunk among the various employees of the chemical industries.
And now I do research on the impact of chemicals on people's health. Pretty dang cool.

His dad (my great-granddad) in turn was something of an inventor, which I didn't know until various patents started showing up on the internet - an umbrella design - one of the early designs for a carbeurator - and a modular box design. I don't know if he made money off any of these inventions or not, and I don't know much else about the man at all. But an umbrella design, how cool is that. I'm tempted to go out and have one special-made for me using his design.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Case of Sally Goodman

Just found out that a short entered in the National Film Challenge 2008 48 hour competition The Case of Sally Goodman was shot in the house I live in. Apparently my dog gave a bunch of the crew allergies, so they had to cut out some scenes with sniffling in them.

John park's office is my roomie's bedroom, the cafe is our kitchen, and everything was shot right here in the span of one day. Pretty impressive!

LGBTI Health Summit - Chicago, August 2009

Come to Chicago to the LGBTI Health Summit!
It's a great place to meet fun thoughtful sexy people.
I've been to my share of academic/professional conferences, and if I have any choice in the matter, I'll never go to one again.
The Health Summits are a different matter - spiritually enriching, intellectually stimulating, and cruisy, too. Totally rejuvenating.
See you there!