My work is doing a blood drive today, something they’ve done one other time since I’ve worked here in the past year. Last time they did the drive, I didn’t bother signing up or even asking if I could try and donate because I knew the answer would be no. This time I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. Maybe the rules have changed. Maybe things aren’t as strict as they were before. Maybe the medical world has removed its head from its ass. Maybe? And yet…no. Everything is as it was before, nothing has changed. Because I am homosexual I am forbidden from giving blood.
I find it extremely frustrating that this is the only reason that I’m not allowed to donate my blood for a good cause. Someone could be dying somewhere, in need of a transfusion, and my blood could be being put to use, but instead I am turned away because I’ve “had sex with other men, at any time since 1977“. So anyone who was gay before 1977 seems to be okay, but if you have been gay since then your blood might as well be murky oil. Or more to the point of what they’re assuming, swimming with AIDS.
I once knew someone who had tried to donate blood and received the same results; he started referring to the problem as “GAIDS”. Anyone gay is automatically assumed to have AIDS, and their blood can’t be taken. It’s apparently too big a risk. Isn’t all blood tested though anyways? Shouldn’t the perfectly healthy people be allowed to give blood since it’s going to be tested and proved healthy? And on the off-chance that someone doesn’t know they’re sick, that blood will be caught in the test process and disposed of before being given to anyone else. No blood should be given to someone in need of a transfusion without being tested, so there’s no excuse for this. From what I’ve heard in the past, it’s that the amount of infected blood in gay donors is much higher than straight donors, so they waste money taking the blood and testing it only to have to reject it. I might find this plausible except for one big flaw…there are plenty of infected straight donors. Plenty.
I read through the restrictions on giving blood even after seeing the very first one on the list being the one that eliminated me. The rest were related to drug use (sharing needles), or traveling to foreign countries. What bothers me even more than the question that ruled out my potential donation is the lack of a question that should’ve ruled out others. Where was the question regarding promiscuous heterosexuals? I have been in a monogamous relationship for years, after having had a blood test in the past to confirm that I had no problems (not that I was ever wild enough in the past to contract any, but peace of mind is a very good thing), and yet I’m still considered a very high risk; on the other hand you have a heterosexual male who could’ve come to work today after hooking up with a stranger last night, who’s had more partners in the past year than there are stars on the American flag, and he’s not even questioned about his sexual history. Because he’s straight, he’s not considered a risk. His lifestyle is far more prone to potential problems than mine or my partner’s, but we are ruled out because of something we can’t help, and he’s not even asked about something he willingly takes part in. “He” being a hypothetical figment of my frustrated imagination of course.
The point is that not every heterosexual that walks in to donate blood is a healthy and sexually responsible candidate. But on that same token, you must also admit that not every homosexual who comes in is a promiscuous potentially hazardous risk that should be shunned. It’s discrimination, pure and simple, and it needs to be stopped. If you look at the statistics, black men or more likely to contract AIDS than white men, gay or straight. Does that mean that anyone black who wishes to donate blood should be turned away at the door? Absolutely not, and anyone who tried to put a restriction like that in place would be branded a racist. So why is it okay to restrict based solely on sexual orientation but not on race?
It isn’t. Things need to change, and soon.