Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sorry Babatunde, Kunte and Mufasa. Keep Movin'.

Last week, I went to lunch with My Lady, Kim, and her friend from work, Amber. The meal was a chance for the two ladies to say their goodbyes, since Kim had just quit her job to prepare for law school. The meal was also a chance for me to meet Amber, the subject of many of Kim's funny work stories.

We went to a restaurant called Cheddar's, a franchise that serves tasty comfort food. Over an all-American meal of slow-cooked green beans, broccoli casserole and, of course, fried chicken, conversation turned to international race relations.

"I don't mess with Africans," Amber said. Amber is a buxom, twenty-something black woman. She snaps her fingers and rolls her eyes when she talks. "I do not have sex with them."

I was alone in my surprise at this categorical choice in men; Kim had already heard the African avoidance story more than once. Eager to get to the bottom of her rationale, I pressed her to explain. "What you got against mother Africa, the giver of life, the cradle of civilization, the land from which our ancestors came?"

"Nothin'. But you can't give blood if you've slept with an African. If I can't give blood, I ain't messing with 'em." I looked at Kim. She smiled.

"Huh? What you talkin' bout?"

"The last time I went to give blood, they gave me a list of questions. One of them was, have you ever slept with an African? If you check the "yes" box, you can't give blood."

"They said it just like that? I don't believe you." I hate when people refer to others as African rather than the term that represents their national origin, like Moroccan or Tanzanian.

"Yep." Amber stared me down. "I'm not trying to have nothin' in my blood that I can't give to somebody else. Nothin'"

"So I guess you've never dated an African?"

"Oh, I have. And when he started hugging and kissing and touching on me, I told him to chill."

"You tell him why?"

"You know it!"

"What did he say?"

"I don't remember, but that was the last time we saw each other."

Of course it was. Unfortunately, that lunch was the last time that Kim and I would see Ms. Amber. I'll forever cherish the memory of her special taste in men. Sorry my brothers from the motherland. She's not interested.


Anonymous Camille said...

have you had sex or shared needles with anyone from the following countries:

cameroon, niger, sudan, zimbabwe, ethiopia, somalia, etc in the last 5 years?

in my broke 'daze' i used to donate plasma...

i think if you paraphrase that, it would sound similar to what Amber said.

i still have a scar from that big ass needle. looks like my elbow pit has a belly button...

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Juicy Fruit said...

If you like sucking on the Mandingo Black Jack then you can't give blood either...

11:39 AM  
Blogger Stephane King said...

crap, guess i won't be giving blood anytime soon...

1:26 PM  
Anonymous round the way girl said...

Hi Quint,

I just could not get over your blog's flippant tone on such a serious issue. I called USA Blood and Dr. Bianco not only returned my call, but he followed up with an email so that I could post it on your blog.

Basically, the prohibition is on West Africans, not the entire Continent. Basically, because of a virulent strain of HIV in West Africa.

Read the medicalese yourself....

From : Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research

Subject : Interim Recommendations for Deferral of Donors at Increased Risk for HIV-1

Group O Infection

To : All Registered Blood and Plasma Establishments

The first report confirming the identification of human immunodeficiency virus, type 1

(HIV-1) group O viruses in patients from Central and West Africa was published in 1994.

Two HIV-1 strains, ANT70 and MVP5180, were isolated from Cameroonian patients and

were classified as group O (outlier group) on the basis of their genetic distance from other

HIV-1 isolates. These variants were identified as HIV-1 because of similarities to other HIV-1

isolates in their genomic organization. DNA sequence analysis showed that the ANT70 and

MVP5180 strains had an average of 65 to 70% homology to HIV-1 and 56% homology to

HIV-2. Since that time, additional cases have been identified; most involve individuals whose

country of origin (birth or residence) was in West Africa.

In 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study to examine

the sensitivity of HIV antibody screening tests licensed by the Food and Drug Administration

(FDA) to detect HIV-1 group O specimens. The study findings indicated that several screening

tests currently in use in the U.S. did not detect one or two of the eight group O sera in that

evaluation. All tests based on recombinant or synthetic peptide antigens failed to detect at least

one specimen; three of the five tests based on whole virus lysate antigen and the

immunofluorescence assay based on HIV-1 infected lymphocytes detected all eight specimens.

In June 1994, in response to these findings, the FDA Blood Products Advisory Committee

(BPAC) discussed the need for manufacturers of test kits for antibodies to HIV-1 to modify

their kits to detect group O in clinical specimens. Since that time, FDA has required

manufacturers developing new test kits for detecting antibodies to HIV-1 to modify these tests

to enhance sensitivity for group O viruses and to include group O specimens in the clinical

evaluation of the tests. In July 1996, FDA sent letters to Investigational New Drug application

and Product License Application holders and manufacturers of licensed kits requesting them to

modify their kits to enhance sensitivity for group O viruses by incorporating in the test a group

O consensus antigen or an antigen or sequence that is representative of group O isolates. An

update on HIV-1 group O was provided at the September 1996 meeting of BPAC.

Two cases of HIV-1 group O infection were identified for the first time in the United States this

year, resulting in increased concern regarding adequacy of current screening of the blood

supply for HIV-1. Additional cases may be identified in ongoing surveillance studies.

At present, the risk of an HIV-1 group O strain occurring in a blood donor is thought to be


very low based on the low prevalence in the general population and the ability of current donor

screening kits to detect most cases. The current criteria for temporary deferral of donors at

risk for malaria also may contribute to exclusion of donors at risk for HIV-1 group O infection.

As part of the criteria for deferral of donors for malaria risk, permanent residents of

nonendemic countries who travel to an area considered endemic for malaria are not accepted as

donors of whole blood and blood components until at least one year after departure from the

endemic area. Emigrants, refugees, citizens or residents of countries where malaria is endemic

are currently not accepted as donors of whole blood or blood components until at least three

years after departure from the area. These geographic exclusion criteria would eliminate some

donors at increased risk for HIV-1 group O infection from West Africa. However, they would

not exclude donors who left these areas more than three years previously who might still be

eligible to donate blood.

Cameroon and adjacent countries in which HIV-1 group O cases have been identified most

likely represent an area which is endemic for HIV-1 group O viruses. Thus, individuals who

were born in or have resided in Cameroon or an adjacent country may be considered to be at

increased risk for HIV-1 group O infection.

Since there are currently no licensed tests that reliably detect infection with HIV-1 group O

based on inclusion of an HIV-1 group O antigen, FDA recommends the following questions

be added to the direct questions on high risk behavior to exclude donors who are at

increased risk for HIV-1 group O infection. An affirmative answer to any of the

following questions should result in indefinite deferral of a potential donor:

1. Were you born in or have you lived in any of the following countries since

1977: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial

Guinea, Gabon, Niger, or Nigeria?

2. If you have travelled to any of those countries since 1977, did you receive a

blood transfusion or any medical treatment with a product made from


3. Have you had sexual contact with anyone who was born in or lived in these

countries since 1977?

These recommendations should be considered interim measures to reduce the risk of HIV-1

group O transmission by blood and blood products pending the licensure of test kits specifically

labeled for detection of antibodies to HIV-1 group O viruses.

The recommendations contained in this memorandum may be implemented immediately without

prior approval by FDA. Licensed establishments implementing these recommendations should

submit by official correspondence a statement to their product license file indicating the date that

revised standard operating procedures consistent with the recommendations have been

Celso Bianco, MD
Executive Vice President
America's Blood Centers
725 15th Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005
Tel.: (202) 654-2914
Fax: (202) 393-5527
Cell: (202) 352-5089
Please give blood . . . It's about Life!

1:29 PM  
Blogger sj-the-infamous said...

Wow...I'd thought it was specific countries, but never "Africans"...

People are amazing, aren't they?! LOLOLOL

1:57 PM  

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