I'll be honest I wasn't sure where I stood on the banning of MSM from blood donation. So what I did was look up the latest figures on HIV and AIDS in Ireland.
Report here: http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/HIVSTIs/...e,13068,en.pdf
I did some very crude analysis myself based on the figures in that and in the 2006 census (ethnicity not yet available for 2011). So if you'll forgive the massive generalisations in my quick analysis, the numbers are quite enlightening.
Irish population is 400,000
5% are MSM, regardless of ethnicity
roughly 30,000 people living here are from Africa (due to the endemic in sub-saharan africa, but it was easier just to consider it as a whole. I should clarify that this is people born in Africa who consider themselves ethnically African).
I took figures from wikipedia on the sensitivity of HIV testing (99.7%)
The three groups I considered and their rate of infection (by combining population stats and HIV stats)
African, not MSM: 4.6206%
Not African, not MSM: 0.0154%
So, if you take a group of 100,000 people belonging to each of those groups and they all go and donate blood.
Assume none of them have had a HIV test done before so nobody will rule themselves out based on their own knowledge (something that the IBTS would have to assume for safety of supply). I've rounded to 3 decimal places so that there's a non-zero result for everything. I know you can't have a half person
Number infected: 701.250
Number of infections correctly detected: 699.146
Number of infections missed: 2.104
African, not MSM:
Number infected: 4620.579
Number of infections correctly detected: 4606.717
Number of infections missed: 13.862
Not African, not MSM:
Number of infections detected: 15.349
Number of infections missed: 0.046
So assuming that donors don't get independently tested for HIV, a very crude estimation of the rates of donations that are HIV+ but that test negative (a false negative) for each group are:
MSM: 1 in 48,000
African, not MSM: 1 in 7,775
Not African, not MSM: 1 in 2.17 million
All of that is not even allowing for the time it takes from infection to actually testing positive, injecting drug users, people who've used prostitutes, women who've slept with MSM, people living in close proximity to a high risk group etc.
Really the IBTS have a responsibility to patients to ensure safety of the blood supply, and to donors to ensure they at as low a risk of infection as possible while donating. Based on my own crude analysis, it really does make sense to eliminate MSM from the donor pool. A couple of quotes from the report stand out:
The highest proportion of new diagnoses in 2011 (42.5%) were among men who have sex with men (MSM).
MSM are the population most affected by HIV in Ireland and are the only risk group in which new HIV infections have been increasing steadily from 60 in 2005 to 136 in 2011 (an increase of 127%).
(I think they considered populations of MSM, heterosexuals and injecting drug users, without considering the african population on their own)
I'm all for a society that is open to differences and is tolerant and respectful of other people. I'm not, however, all for massively increasing the risk to vulnerable patients. People have to be grouped into 'risk groups' somehow. The IBTS seem to do that by grouping people by the common routes of transmission. One of which is MSM. They have to group people somehow and I get the feeling that no matter how they did it, there'll always be someone who falls into a high risk category going "But I'm clean!!! How dare they!!!" I really don't think it's discrimination to prevent people who belong to a high risk group from donating. It's just good common sense.
So if you'll forgive the hugely simplified and very crude analysis, I'm gonna have to say that I agree with the IBTS. But then again, I don't belong to any excluded group so I guess it's easy for me to agree.