Do you Donate blood?
Working in academia, it seems there is a campus blood drive about every 6 months. As student volunteers wave free movie tickets in my face as rewards for donating, I look at them and politely say, “No, it’s illegal for me to donate” and keep walking. I know it’s not their fault and I don’t make it a big issue, for I’d love to help and free movie tickets on top of that would be great, but I don’t want to ignore their positive community service act that I am not allowed to be a donating member of.
I’m not involved in the blood drives at my new institution, but I did run them at the two high schools where I taught. The springtime donors would always outnumber the fall numbers since the student body was populated with a bigger number who had reached the age of consent. But another group of students also increased in size each time, the upset gay students that would get to those all important question …
From 1997 to the present, have you
33. Received money, drugs, or other payment for sex?
34. Male donors: had sexual contact with another male, even once?
I grew to expect the confused students approaching me before, during, and after the blood drive. I was an out teacher, but not way out. I didn’t make my sexuality a talking point and students respected that and didn’t make it an issue either. It was what it was. What was interesting was that during the blood drives, students that were out, some that were not out, and some that were figuring out things would approach me with that massive question mark beaming from their forehead as they read the American Red Cross questionnaire. Students would say, “How should I answer this question? How could they do this? I’m trying to help and I want to give blood. I’m just going to fib on the survey so I can donate. Is it wrong for me to not tell the truth? I know I’m clean. They don’t need to know I am gay and had sex before for me to give blood. Don’t they test it all anyway?” I would respond in a very Switzerland fashion telling them that this was an adult thing to do, donating blood, and those questions are for you to answer as you see fit. Honesty is always the best policy, but you need to do what you need to do. I could not tell them what to decide and it was not my station to out them as being a sexually active male teen that has had sex with other men. Some left disgruntled and others donated. It was interesting to watch fellow students that had read the confidential survey notice the gay male students giving blood, knowing that they were sexually active and must have lied on the survey. No one ever came to me and pointed the finger at another student in regard to why they were allowed to donate blood if they had told the truth. They had respected their decision and maybe they didn't know the whole story.
Mostly the students' arguments were "Why do we still have this ban?"
What is FDA's policy on blood donations from men who have sex with other men?
Men who have had sex with other men (MSM), at any time since 1977 (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as blood donors. This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.
I am not sure if the ban should be lifted or not. Maybe I'm happy there is a ban since I don't like needles or the sight of my own blood. But there are people out there, former students, current advocates that believe the ban should be lifted and believe the lift could help millions of people.
The U.S. Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety Availability (ACBTSA) met Thursday to review the latest research on the 31-year-old ban. The panel voted 16-2 to recommend amending the policy from the current lifetime ban to one that allows men who have had sex with men to donate blood after being abstinent for one year.
A recent study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated that if the ban was completely eliminated, 360,600 men would likely donate 615,300 additional pints of blood a year, which could be used to help 1.8 million people. – LGBTQNATION.COM
What are your thoughts?
Should the ban be lifted? If so, should there be the 1 year abstinence rule?
If collected, should "gay blood" be tested more thoroughly than others?
Do you donate anyway?