Banned for life

Roberta Nicastro, Co-Culture Editor

When AIDS first started to cause alarm, any man who had sex with another man since 1977 could not blood because they were considered more of a threat to blood supply than a man treated for chlamydia or genital herpes within the past year. Now, 32 years later, the First Division Association (FDA) reviewed this to see if they should retract it. Despite the fact that HIV screening processes are now modernly advanced, the FDA decided the prohibition would remain.

Gay activists have filed complaints against this discrimination. A heterosexual woman who has had sexual intercourse with many partners infected with AIDS can donate blood after waiting a year, but a man who has remained celibate since 1978 is banned.

“I believe the policy was first made out of discrimination but the FDA review, that decided that it will remain this way, was looked at through inspection of many statistics and tests.” junior Sy Lam said. “So morally, I do not think it is okay for the government to impose these restrictions but the statistics show that it certainly has helped.”

According to menshealth.com, Blake Lynch, a 22-year-old student in Florida, found out about the ban when an administrator at a clinic told him that he could not donate blood after answering “yes” to whether or not he has had sex with another male.

Lynch and his partner, Brett Connelly, decided to begin an organization called Banned4Life to raise awareness regarding this policy. The organization does not protest and discourage people to not donate, but instead creates an incentive for those eligible to donate on behalf of those who cannot.

Several other countries including France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark have a lifetime ban against gay blood donors. However, Italy and Spain no longer exclude gay men and Australia, Japan, Brazil, and the United Kingdom require a one-year deferral.

According to abcnews.go.com, Doni Gewirtzman, a member of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, agrees that safety of the blood supply is the first priority but suggests that the current restrictions are too tight on gays and too loose on promiscuous heterosexuals.

In 1999, scientists discovered the Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT), which detects the amount of actual virus in the bloodstream. Menshealth.com states that every sample of blood collected in blood banks in the United States is screened through NAT for several diseases including syphilis, hepatitis and HIV.

“I am abhorred by the scientific community along with the FDA for prohibiting the gay community from potentially saving lives. I think that this just further demonstrates the ongoing inequality in America between gay and straight men.” sophomore Victoria Noisom said. “I believe the implementation of such a policy is offensive to the gay community and I applaud those who are striving for equality, even for something as beneficial as blood donation.”

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