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Stop Discriminating against Gay and Bisexual Men Who Want to Give Blood

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"You should not give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV.

You are at risk for getting infected if you:

  • are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977
  • have had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone described above"

This is a direct quote from the American Red Cross' eligibility criteria for potential blood donors. It is saying that if you have had sexual contact with another male or have had sexual contact with a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even if it was just once, you cannot ever donate blood. This rule is adding to the national homophobia and discrimination against bisexual and gay men.

Originally this was put into the American Red Cross' guidelines because they did not have adequate tests for HIV/AIDS and because HIV/AIDS was thought to be a "gay disease". Now, however, they do have adequate tests and perform those tests on every blood donation that they receive, as well as tests for other diseases, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and syphilis among others. We also know now that not just gay men get HIV.

They bring up the point that HIV antibodies can take a few weeks to develop after infection and this can cause negative tests even if you are actually HIV positive, which is why, they reason, you can't ever give blood if you may have been exposed to HIV in any way, shape, or form even if you are HIV negavite.

Due to this discriminatory rule, thousands of people are denied from giving blood every year. The American Red Cross can easily change this rule to something that doesn't discriminate against an entire population. With a few strokes of a pen, they can change the rule to say that "if you believe you have been exposed to HIV/AIDS, you must get a test done before you can give blood".

Help me tell the American Red Cross to change this rule.

Sincerely,

Victoria Stearns

 

Sources:

http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/eligibility-requirements/eligibility-criteria-alphabetical-listing

http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/donation-faqs#Blood_Safety

http://www.nytimes.com/1982/06/18/us/clue-found-on-homosexuals-precancer-syndrome.html



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