Current donation rules outdated
The 1980s have been over for longer than many current UH students have been alive; therefore, America is long overdue to move on from the stereotypes embraced during that period. Specifically, the Federal Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services need to lift the current ban preventing all men who have had sex with other men after 1977 from donating blood.
The restriction, originally imposed in 1983, was meant to prevent the spread of HIV. However, significantly lower restrictions were placed on straight men and women who have been directly exposed to HIV. Straight individuals who have had sex with others with HIV/AIDS only have to wait a year before they donate blood, while any man who has had sex with another man in the past 33 years cannot donate blood at all.
In addition to the ridiculousness of this fact, it only takes a maximum of 38 days after exposure before HIV shows up on screening tests. If a man got HIV in the ‘80s, he’d certainly know by now. Simply asking the same questions given to straight individuals would be just as safe as the method currently used for gay men.
The extreme imbalance found within this policy can only be attributed to stereotyping at the federal level of government. It might be understandable if this was still the 1980s and AIDS was an epidemic that predominantly affected gay men, but this is 2010. Even aids.gov, a Web site run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, admits that the face of AIDS has shifted.
The Web site states, “Only gay people get HIV” as a myth and explains, “Many new cases of HIV occur among heterosexual women of color, ethnic minorities, and people who live in rural areas.”
If the federal government follows the logic it used in 1983, it would place a ban on all minorities and rural residents from donating blood. Only white urbanites would be able to donate blood. The problem with this sort of thought process is simple and clear: it drastically reduces the number of people who are able to donate blood, limiting the volume of supplies held in blood banks and putting lives at risk.
Despite this reality, however, the federal government is standing by its anti-gay policy regarding blood donations. On June 11, the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability, a federal committee that considered the issue, decided in a 9-6 vote to not recommend lifting the ban. Instead, it weakly proposed that more research be conducted before any changes are made.
The ban on gay men donating blood prevents individuals who would otherwise be more than willing to give their blood from doing so, needlessly preventing tens of thousands of pints of blood from going to those who need them each year. By continuing the ban, the federal government is depriving hospitals and blood centers from accessing resources they could use to save lives. It also continues a hateful message of oppression to all Americans who are a part of the GLBT community.
Casey Goodwin is a Mechanical Engineering Sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]