Obsolete rule prevents gay men from giving blood
Donating blood is considered to be an act of heroism, charity and selflessness. With OU hosting a blood drive this week in connection with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, it’s important to be aware of a disconcerting issue associated with donating blood.
According to the Red Cross, someone in the U.S needs blood every two seconds. A car accident victim alone can easily require up to 100 pints of blood. With the obvious and persistent need for blood donations, you would think that places like the Red Cross and the Oklahoma Blood Institute would gladly accept any healthy donations from any willing donor. This, unfortunately, seems to be untrue.
In 1977, the FDA enacted a law that prevented sexually active gay men from donating blood. This was due to the recent outbreak of HIV/AIDS mainly among gay men. The virus eventually became known as “the gay cancer,” “the gay disease” and many other degrading nicknames. The sudden onset of this disease caused a panic amongst the drug industry and stigmatized gay men to the extreme.
Many people thought that if you were a gay man, you probably had AIDS or were going to get it at some point. It was believed by radical religious groups to be God’s punishment for participating in homosexual acts, which made the problem much worse rather than better.
It is now thirty years later, and this atrocious stigma still exists. However, there are valiant efforts being made all over the country to combat both the legislation keeping gay men from donating blood as well as the damaging mindset that HIV/AIDS is only prevalent amongst gay men.
“This is a form of inequality that fuels an unjustified hate towards gay men,” All R Equal founder Michael Hernandez said. “I have run into many people who think that if both men are HIV negative and have sex with each other, even if monogamous, God will strike them down with HIV. This makes no sense at all.”
All R Equal is a non-profit organization geared towards petitioning to allow gay men to donate blood while promoting gender and LGBT equality.
This is the sort of mentality that has pushed unfair, harmful legislation, like the one being enforced by the FDA, into the law books.
When there is a great need like this one, it is hardly fitting to be selective based on outdated stereotypes, stigmas and rumors. We are living in a mostly progressive world, and new knowledge and research is produced almost every day on subjects, such as the correlation (or lack-thereof) between gay men and HIV/AIDS. It is time for the FDA to take a more educated, modern approach to whom they allow to donate blood.
That being said, what can college students like us do to further this important, progressive cause? To start, you can sign a petition online at http://www.change.org/petitions/u-s-food-and-drug-administration-allow-gay-bisexual-men-to-donate-blood created by MK Hernandez in affiliation with All R Equal. Signing this petition will help get us closer to reaching the goal; the goal to allow any healthy person to donate blood, regardless of their sexuality, while also potentially saving a few more precious lives.