While the UK might be ready to allow some gay men to donate blood, the US still doesn’t allow men who have had sex with men (MSM) – or women that have sex with men who have sex with men (WMSM) – to donate blood.
This homophobic and completely irrational policy was the impetus behind an organized protest in New York City this past Friday. NYU’s Queer Union co-sponsored a blood drive outside the university’s college union, alongside international gay rights group No Boundaries and the New York Blood Center.
Chanting “Don’t Waste Our Blood,” the groups encouraged passer-by to sign a petition to the FDA. To emphasize the inequality of gay blood, they drew fake blood from illegible donors and symbolically dumped it in the trash.
The NY Daily News covered the clever, visually memorable event. They talked to NYU student Doug Miller who had just dumped the blood he would have donated if he could into the trash.
“My understanding is they’re screening the blood anyway. I know so many people in [the LGBT] community that would donate if they could.”
Senator John Kerry shared Miller’s views, and tried to change the FDA’s ban on gay blood back in the summer of 2010, but was not successful. He joined gay rights activists in protesting the ban, which is a ridiculous double standard because the agency allows heterosexual people that have had sex with someone with HIV to donate blood after waiting just one year.
The FDA, in a statement on their website, says nothing about the double standard for straight people that have sex with HIV positive people:
The FDA’s primary responsibility is to enhance blood safety and protect blood recipients. Therefore FDA would change this policy only if supported by scientific data showing that a change in policy would not present a significant and preventable risk to blood recipients.
It makes no sense that gay men would be banned completely – or even for 10 years – just because they have had gay sex. If a straight person possibly infected with HIV can donate blood after one year, why in the world can’t the gays?