Since 1985, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was going rampant the US, all men who had ever had sex with other men were prohibited from donating blood. On Tuesday, May 12th, the Associated Press announced that the Food and Drug Administration has lifted the ban on gay blood donation. However, there is a long way to go until this situation is fully rectified, because the rules that were introduced are strict to say the least.
So, after 30 years during which men who had had sex with other men even once have been strictly forbidden from donating blood, the FDA brings significant changes.
At the moment, gay men are allowed to donate blood, much like anybody else, but with the supplementary condition that they have not had sexual intercourse with other men for at least one year.
The reactions to the decision boomed from all around, making FDA’s rules is controversial to say the least. The majority of the reactions convey that it is still a huge act of discrimination against gay men to institute such a strict rule, especially when present technology would not require additional testing to be conducted on blood samples from gay men.
This entire situation came to pass back in 1985, when AIDS was widely spread among the gay community and all people were at risk of becoming contaminated via blood transfusion. It was therefore decided that the safest course of action would be to reject any and all men who have had sexual relations with other males.
The ban however did not stop the number of people who have been contaminated with HIV/AIDS through blood transfusions to rise up to 14,000 until 2001, but it might have kept it down at least until screening technology was advanced.
Presently, all the blood samples received by the blood bank are carefully tested for HIV among other diseases, regardless of who the donor is and what his sexual history implies. This is why the year-long abstinence period required to make a gay man an eligible donor seems unfair. The FDA has yet to explain its decision.
In order to bring awareness to this matter, The National Gay Blood Drive was created back in 2012. One day a year, gay men bring eligible replacements to blood banks who donate in their stead.
Ryan James Yezak, the founder of this movement, has issued a statement on Tuesday on the official website, expressing his contentment with the FDA’s decision because he says that even as it is now, it still represents a huge step forward.
Then he explained that his movement will continue its quest for persuading the FDA to regard hard evidence “until they arrive at a non-discriminatory policy and discrimination based on sexual orientation is eliminated from the blood deferral process altogether.”
As the situation stands, the FDA still encourages prostitutes and woman who have had sexual relations with bisexual and gay men to not become blood donors.
One year of abstinence for the gay men is a high price for the privilege of donating blood. It remains to be seen if a serious course of action will be taken in order to further persuade the FDA to make restrictions regarding gay blood donors less strict.
Nevertheless, the present situation, even in its current state, is an important step forward to the gay community. But somehow it is almost impossible to shake off the feeling that is still a form of open discrimination.
Image Source: feminspire
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