Here in the United States, the current guidance laid down by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when it comes to blood donations is to permanently defer any potential male donor who has had sex with another man (men who have sex with men, or MSM) at any point in time since 1977, and to defer any woman who has had sex with a man from the MSM group for one year from donating blood. This policy stems out of fear of contaminating the blood supply with HIV/AIDS, which is a major concern for everyone.
However, this policy also stems from misunderstandings and prejudices about men who engage in this sexual lifestyle. The problem with this policy is that the FDA sees the MSM group as a "high risk" group for disease transmission, when those who aren't a part of the MSM group are just as likely to spread diseases and infections amongst each other if the proper precautions aren't taken. This policy targets the MSM group and those who aren't a part of it but have had sexual ties with it (the women involved) and denies them of something good that they can do.
It's often reported that the blood supply is low, and you often hear from clinics and blood donation facilities that "We need your blood!" If they need our blood so bad, then why are they turning away so many eligible donors who are just as clean as the next person?
It's understandable to want to keep contamination out of the blood supply, and it's something we can all agree on. However, denying someone the ability to donate blood based on their sexual lifestyle is discriminatory and outright redundant. You obviously can't need blood that bad if you're turning away so many.
It is important for us to stand up to the FDA and tell them to allow everyone who is medically eligible to donate blood, not just those who are eligible based on sexual practices. As a multiple-time blood donor, I have been told on every occasion that the donated blood is always screened very carefully for any types of contamination, including hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, among other types. Thus, it only makes sense to allow everyone to donate blood and continue testing it as you normally would, and if one does have a contamination, dispose of it properly and notify the donor immediately, as is procedure. So many people out there who engage in the MSM lifestyle and those who are tied to it have blood that is just as good as any other person's blood. Safe sexual practices are a standard now, and the FDA can't accept it nor ignore their own prejudices. Tell the FDA that enough is enough: stop denying eligible donors, and help bring the blood supply up to help those in need!
You can tell the FDA that enough is enough by posting on their Facebook page:
or tweeting their multiple accounts on on Twitter
or call the FDA main phone at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332).