A Gay doctor in the U.K. is pointing out the harm in his country’s gay blood donation ban.
In the U.K., men are banned from donating blood if they had sex with another man within the past three months. This limitation, which is a holdover from the days of the AIDS epidemic, is riddled in homophobia and bias rather than scientific need. As such, the ban has been ridiculed and challenged, especially during the current coronavirus pandemic.
One recent case of open ridicule came from British doctor Joseph Heskin. According to HIV Plus Mag, Heskin was banned from donating blood. This is especially unfortunate due to the fact that he has been found to have antibodies for the coronavirus.
“It was quite strange because I knew that the answer I was given was coming, because I’ve spoken to other people who have been through the same process,” Heskin told BBC Live reporters, as reported by PinkNews. “So I actually expected that answer and yet still it took me by surprise how upsetting it was.”
He added, “When you realise that within your own professional environment, within the organisation that employs you, there are criteria that deem you [and] your blood an unacceptable risk to the public — even though I know as myself but also as a clinician, as a HIV physician, that that just isn’t true — to be made to feel dirty or unclean, it brings all the [shame] rushing back again.”
Their comms team must have some balls! And that’s coming from sexual health doc
— Joseph Heskin (@JosephHeskin) June 23, 2020
After hearing that reject, Heskin has publicly condemned the ban. He has expressed outrage at the ban for not being based on health concern but homophobic mentality.
“What we’re saying is that the blood transfusion criteria are not accounting for heterosexual individuals who may have multiple sexual partners, may not be using any form of barrier contraception or additional protection – and yet there’s no barrier to them donating,” he told the BBC. “But there’s currently barriers to gay and bisexual men donating who may be of no risk whatsoever.”
But what change is the doctor looking to see? Heskin is asking that health officials and politicians implement individual risk assessments. This is a goal that’s become hotly discussed in the world of health within the U.K. Some government officials are looking into the possibility of implementing the individual assessment process, but no change has come yet. Until that gets done, opportunities for good, like Dr. Heskin’s antibodies, will go to waste.