Blood Ban to be Lifted in the UK on November 7th

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From November 7th Gay and Bisexual men in England, Scotland and Wales will be able to give blood. Any Gay or Bisexual Man who has not had homosexual sex in 12 months will be able to give blood.

While its not the most ideal of situations, it is better then a blanket ban on gay and bisexual men.

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service national director Keith Thompson said: “We are pleased that this new donor selection criteria has been made possible by the most up to date scientific advances in screening and testing.”

He added: “Blood donation works on the principles of kindness and mutual trust.

“In order for us to safely introduce this new rule we ask all potential and existing donors to adhere to the selection criteria by providing completely honest answers to all the questions, both for the protection of their own health and that of patients.”

Mr Thompson said the blood donor selection criteria and other blood safety measures, including stringent testing, mean that there has been no documented transmission of a blood-born virus in the UK since 2005, with no HIV transmission since 2002.

The National Aids Trust has welcomed the changes.

The organisation tweeted: “NAT welcomes the lifting of the lifetime blood ban for gay men and the new evidence-based approach.”

With our nearest neighbour now lifting the ban, it will give support to those advocating a more scientific based approach to the ban here in Ireland. While there will be those opposed to any sort of ban, a short term ban is better then a blanket ban.

It is interesting to note that the ban will not be lifted in Northern Ireland. So then ban, for now, is still in effect across the Island of Ireland, and I cannot see that changing despite what the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs have found in their review earlier this year.

The IBTS will have to change eventually, especially if it is confirmed that the blanket lifetime ban is against EU Law.


ABC v Ireland (European Court of Human Rights)

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Today the European Court of Human Rights (not an EU body!) handed down its judgement on the case of ABC v Ireland on the issue of provision of Abortion in Ireland.

As kind of expected the court declared A and B inadmissible as

the existing prohibition on abortion in Ireland struck a fair balance between the right of the first and second applicants to respect of their private lives and the rights invoked on behalf of the unborn.

They also stated that

prohibition in Ireland on abortion for health or well-being reasons was based on the profound moral values of the Irish people in respect of the right to life of the unborn

So the court did take this into account.

The difference in the case of C was that the life of the mother was under threat due to the cancer she was suffering from. As the Irish Constitution allows an abortion in this case, the court ruled

that neither the medical consultation nor litigation options, relied on by the Irish Government, constituted effective and accessible procedures which allowed the third applicant to establish her right to a lawful abortion in Ireland. Moreover, there was no explanation why the existing constitutional right had not been implemented to date.

This is an issue that has been dodged by successive governments since the eight amendment was passed. This will now force the Goverment to amend the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which has had the “chilling” effect on any sort of abortion service in Ireland.

It is interesting as well to see the groups who intervened in this case.

  • the Lithuanian Government (one of the applicants being Lithuanian);
  • the European Centre for Law and Justice in association with Kathy Sinnott (Member of the European Parliament);
  • the Family Research Council (Washington D.C.)
  • Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (London); the
  • Pro-Life Campaign;
  • Doctors for Choice (Ireland)
  • British Pregnancy Advisory Service;
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme.

This case has been welcomed by Pro-Choice activist and condemned by Pro-Life activists, which is strange considering all the judgement is doing is telling us to enact our own constitution!

So will we finally get our abortion act?

Full Judgement and ECHR Press Release (PDF’s)

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World AIDS Day – I am Getting Treatment

I am living my rights

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World AIDS Day 2010 – I Am Living My Rights

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It is that time of year again. That Day when the worlds focus is on HIV/AIDS. The Day where we hope that the following year will be different.

That maybe HIV infections will decrease.

That maybe HIV won’t be passed on from mother to child.

That maybe by listening people may change their habits and not be infected.

That maybe we will find a cure.

It is a day of hope.

It is a day for action.

It is a day for remembrance.

It has been this way since 1988 when the first World AIDS Day was marked.

Things are different not then in 1988. We understand the disease more, people are living longer with the disease.

But just because they are living longer, it is not an end to their struggle. In fact it has led to a whole new struggle.

People with HIV/AIDS are discriminated against. Its a known fact. And we all play a role in it.

There is in many countries, including Ireland, no legal protection for those who are discriminated against due to their HIV/AIDS status. We cover nine grounds in Ireland so why not add another? These are vulnerable members of our society. They need our support, our solidarity, and most of all to treat them as normal human beings.

That is why I wear the Red Ribbon. Let them live their rights.

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World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. According to the World Health Organisation 1 million people commit suicide every year. That makes 60 deaths per 100,000 a suicide. Or another way to put it, one death every 40 seconds.

This years theme is “Many Faces, Many Places: Suicide Prevention across the World”. This is to highlight the growing problem of Suicide in the Developing World.

Here in Ireland 527 people committed suicide in 2009. This could be increased by the 195 deaths classified as “undetermined intent”. Taking the accepted figure, it is a 25% increase on 2008. This shows action must be taken.

Not all suicides can be prevented but some actions can be taken. These include the following:

  • Developing and implementing national strategies as well as specific local interventions can lower rates of suicide in diverse populations.
  • Successful approaches to suicide prevention have included:
  1. restricting access to means;
  2. establishing community prevention programs;
  3. establishing guidelines for media reporting;
  4. engaging with frontline professionals through gate keeper training programs.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) is calling for “more evidence-based suicide prevention programs throughout the world”.

For the rest of us, the ISAP is asking us to light a candle near a window at 8pm for a number of reasons.

  • To show your support for Suicide Prevention
  • To remember a lost loved one
  • for the survivors of suicide.

For more information look up their Facebook Page and their website

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Uniform Codeine Regulation Needed

As some of you may be aware I work for a pharmacy chain. As part of my job I cover the Pharmacy Counter. As of the 1st of August new regulations came in on the supply of products containing Codeine. This has created some confusion which is not helped by pharmacists!

I have noticed from talking to friends, customers and pharmacists that each pharmacy and even sometimes branches within them, are adopting slightly different policies on the sale of codeine products.

An example of this is when my mother went to one pharmacy and was told she could not be sold a product and was not referred to the pharmacist as the regulations set out.

This makes it quite confusing for patients. It also makes it harder for those of us on the counter to help patients as if they can’t get what they want in our pharmacy they say they will go to another one.

The Draft Guidance on the Codeine Products is available on the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland’s website (PDF) but that does not set out a uniform policy.

Codeine products need to be strongly regulated and from my experience of this regulation I think they would be better off putting those products on prescription, it will be the only way that it will be regulated considering the abuse and misuse associated with these products and their addictive nature.

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Head Shops – Should they be banned?

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I recently got a mailshot from the local Sinn Fein Councillor, Fiona Kerins, and as part of it, it should her and her comrades picketing outside a shop as it carried out its LEGAL trade.

Some people may not like head shops, what they stand for, or what they sell. But, they are breaking no law.

Why should people picket a shop that is not breaking the law?

Yes I do think mephedrone and its synthetics should be banned, but picketing and threatening shops, as some “dissidents” are doing, is not the answer.

Maybe we should follow the lead of the UK and ban the substances as soon as possible? Thereby leaving the Head Shops alone to carry out their legal business?

A recent letter in the Irish Independent makes me think that a total ban on Head Shops is not the way to

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Public Meeting on FairCare

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A public meeting will be held on Monday 8th of March at 8:00pm in Silversprings Morans Hotel Cork on the the new Fine Gael Health Policy “FairCare”.

Speakers on the night will include Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny TD, Fine Gael Health Spokesperson Dr. James O’Reilly TD and Fine Gael Seanad Health Spokesperson Senator Francis Fitzgerald.

Local elected representatives will also be in attendance. This is a good chance to find out more about the Fine Gael Health policy. I hope to be in attendance!

For more information on the policy see

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