The student news site of Casa Grande High School
  • Chapters
    • Chapter 1

The Ban on Gay Men’s Blood

September 24, 2016

Old Policy is Discriminatory

The FDA first put the ban on donated blood from men who have sex with men (MSM) in 1983, in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. This was meant to prevent the spread of HIV, as there wasn’t a simple method to detect the virus in blood. Only last year did the FDA alter–not lift–the ban and declare that LGBT men could donate blood, as long as they were abstinent for a twelve-month period.

   The first ban back in the 1980s is somewhat understandable, although it certainly did its part to contribute to discrimination against the gay community and AIDS patients. Yet in the time since the first major outbreak of AIDS, technology has progressed to a point where blood samples can now provide diagnosis of HIV. Clearly, we are not stuck using the obsolete technology of the ’80s, and diagnosis is now much easier than it once was. But even today queer men are still not permitted to donate blood, even though they are not the only carriers of the virus.

   Even gay men in monogamous relationships aren’t permitted to donate blood, while heterosexual men and women with multiple partners are not under the same restrictions. It’s true that higher transmission rates are associated with anal sex, but MSM are not the only ones who have anal sex. Additionally, homophobia also has a hand in the higher rates of HIV in gay men, as discrimination makes it more difficult to access health care, which causes delays in diagnosis and treatment of HIV.

   According to FiveThirtyEight, lifting the ban would add 4.2 million possible donors, and although only about 360,000 are likely to donate, the blood supply would increase between two and four percent. This may seem like a small amount, but blood is literally lifesaving; the Williams Institute estimates that a lifting of this ban could potentially save 1.8 million lives annually.

    There are other solutions to the potential spread of HIV that are not so discriminatory to LGBT men. While the U.S. is not alone in their 12 month deferral for gay donors, Italy, for example, has found an alternate method of ensuring disease-free blood donations. Instead of having a blanket ban on donations from MSM, Italy instead uses a questionnaire that asks the potential donor about their history of unprotected sex. Not only does this not specifically target MSM, but since Italy began using it in 2001, there hasn’t been a significant rise in rates of HIV infections.

   So why do we continue to employ this archaic ban? As a nation, we have progressed past the homophobia and discrimination of the 1980s–not entirely, of course, but even in the last ten years we’ve made remarkable strides. Thus it is all the more ridiculous that this ban, though recently altered, still exists. It’s a restriction rooted in homophobia and prejudice, made worse by the fact that other, less-discriminatory alternatives exist. Same-sex marriage may be legal now in America, but we still have a long way to go before things are equal.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lax Regulation Could Prove Fatal

The FDA first put the ban on donated blood from men who have sex with men (MSM) in 1983, in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. This was meant to prevent the spread of HIV, as there wasn’t a simple method to detect the virus in blood. Only last year did the FDA alter–not lift–the ban and declare that LGBT men could donate blood, as long as they were abstinent for a twelve-month period.

   The first ban back in the 1980s is somewhat understandable, although it certainly did its part to contribute to discrimination against the gay community and AIDS patients. Yet in the time since the first major outbreak of AIDS, technology has progressed to a point where blood samples can now provide diagnosis of HIV. Clearly, we are not stuck using the obsolete technology of the ’80s, and diagnosis is now much easier than it once was. But even today queer men are still not permitted to donate blood, even though they are not the only carriers of the virus.

   Even gay men in monogamous relationships aren’t permitted to donate blood, while heterosexual men and women with multiple partners are not under the same restrictions. It’s true that higher transmission rates are associated with anal sex, but MSM are not the only ones who have anal sex. Additionally, homophobia also has a hand in the higher rates of HIV in gay men, as discrimination makes it more difficult to access health care, which causes delays in diagnosis and treatment of HIV.

   According to FiveThirtyEight, lifting the ban would add 4.2 million possible donors, and although only about 360,000 are likely to donate, the blood supply would increase between two and four percent. This may seem like a small amount, but blood is literally lifesaving; the Williams Institute estimates that a lifting of this ban could potentially save 1.8 million lives annually.

    There are other solutions to the potential spread of HIV that are not so discriminatory to LGBT men. While the U.S. is not alone in their 12 month deferral for gay donors, Italy, for example, has found an alternate method of ensuring disease-free blood donations. Instead of having a blanket ban on donations from MSM, Italy instead uses a questionnaire that asks the potential donor about their history of unprotected sex. Not only does this not specifically target MSM, but since Italy began using it in 2001, there hasn’t been a significant rise in rates of HIV infections.

   So why do we continue to employ this archaic ban? As a nation, we have progressed past the homophobia and discrimination of the 1980s–not entirely, of course, but even in the last ten years we’ve made remarkable strides. Thus it is all the more ridiculous that this ban, though recently altered, still exists. It’s a restriction rooted in homophobia and prejudice, made worse by the fact that other, less-discriminatory alternatives exist. Same-sex marriage may be legal now in America, but we still have a long way to go before things are equal.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation. Inflammatory and inappropriate comments will be removed.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The Gaucho Gazette • Copyright 2017 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in