Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Gay Blood: Not Wanted
how having sufficient and diverse blood products on hand
can make the difference between life and death for folks
in an accident or facing surgery.
Well, not nearly enough people give blood in this country,
and we're always at low levels.
But the Blood Services organizations still discriminate
against gay donors. They still deny the opportunity to gay
and bisexual men to donate blood, even though the
testing process for HIV is highly sophisticated.
I asked the St. Pete-based Florida Blood Services why the
ban on gay donors exists if they have the technology to test
the blood for viability of use. The contact was unable (or
unwilling) to state clearly, but did say the testing is not
So, I asked, if testing is inaccurate, then isn't the testing of
all the blood that is diseased sort of a moot point? That's
when she admitted that they are really dependent on the
questionaires and people's honesty. WHAT THE WHAT!?!
You're putting the lives of millions on the line with the magical
thinking that the American public is going to honestly answer
intimate questions about socially uncomfortable information?
In the hands of an inaccurate testing procedure?
Here's the rub; the people who are the potential problem--
the IV drug users, the down low men, the closeted Bible
thumpers, promiscuous bisexual men, etc; these folks are NOT
going to admit their private activities on a questionaire that
is attached to their name and idenity! Especially in small towns!
Especially when many times, families and coworkers go to
blood drives in groups! Come on!
So either the testing is reliable or it's not; if you're willing to
chance lives on all the folks who lied about their activities in
order to squeek by and cover up their secrets, then why not
'take a chance' on the HIV negative, the sexually celibate, the
safe-sex practicing civic minded folks who want to be a part
of their community?
The answer; There is no good reason.
What was imparted to me, though, was that it's politics and
P.R....that essentially the questions and the policy remains because
the public is still homophobic, and people feel safer about the blood
supply when the idea that there is a ban on gay men donating exists.
So, why not employ a ban on black men, black women, and
Latin women donating blood? Hispanic and black women are the
highest increase communities in HIV infection. Sell that move to
the people. No? I didn't think so.
The problem here is simple; The antiquated notion, the mythology
that gay men are automatically at risk for HIV moreso than anyone
else, is being promoted here, and the rationale is that since the
discriminatory attitude already exists, why not pander to it?
Fear, lies, and prejudice are not valid basis for public policies.
Is the life of your spouse, parent, or child worth the continuation
of discriminatory practice?
(Originally printed at Georgia Unity)