Many of our states face critical blood supply shortages & despite this fact, we routinely turn away potential blood donors if they report having had same sex sexual relations at any point in their lives. The United Kingdom's Advisory Committee on the Safety of blood, tissue & organs (Sabto) cites that based on the latest available evidence, they can "no longer support the permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men." Thus, the U.K. recently lifted the lifelong ban that had prevented gay & bisexual males from donating blood & replaced it with a 12 month waiting period. In doing so, they become one of a dozen developed countries that allow gay & bisexual men to contribute to the nation's blood supply.
I am a college and university instructor, and I make it a point to offer extra credit to my biological anthropology lecture students for donating blood. A student of mine named Tim heard about the dire need for blood donations & wanted to help people & to make a positive difference by donating blood to the American Red Cross. When he was turned away for answering honestly about his sexual orientation, Tim describes feeling horrible & embarrassed. This is blatant discrimination, but not only that, it is completely unjustified, the vast majority of gay and bisexual men do not have & never will contract HIV. The simple fact, that has been known to medical science for years now, is that HIV is not & never has been exclusive to same sex sexual relations, & thus, we should not penalize potential blood donors, or ourselves by turning away gay and bisexual males. Additionally, all donated blood is subject to rigorous safety testing procedures to identify the presence of viral markers that indicate a risk factor for infection transmission & advances in HIV testing render the ban obsolete. We also have to consider the reality that there are countless males who consider themselves "straight" & yet have had sexual relations with another male & there is no guarantee that all blood donors will answer completely honestly when asked such personal questions about their sex lives.
Please join me in urging the FDA to repeal the outdated, obsolete & discriminatory policy of banning blood donation from males who've had same sex sexual relations.
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