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Gay blood answer shows ignorance of science

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Edwin Poots, the Minister of Health, made a telling remark in response to the question: "What science is the minister basing his opposition to gay blood donation on?" (Spotlight, BBC1, February 21).

Mr Poots said: "I know people who are haemophiliacs as a result of receiving blood. I have to be very sure and be very strong on this, that what I am doing is in the best interest of the people who are receiving blood, not who are giving blood."

As anyone with a basic understanding of science would be able to explain to the minister, haemophilia is a hereditary genetic disorder. Contracting it "as a result of receiving blood" would be a medical impossibility.

If Edwin is unable to grasp the basic principles around what can and cannot be transmitted as a result of blood-borne infection, what confidence can the public possibly have in his ability to make a rational, evidence-based decision on this issue?

If the minister is able to produce the person 'he knows' who has been unlucky enough to defy all medical knowledge on the subject, I will follow, in the recent example of a well-known physicist, and vow to eat my boxer-shorts.

ANDY SMYTH

Cara-Friend, Belfast

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