The Gay Blood Ban: Is it Really Necessary?
For this paper, I attended a Lunch-n-Learn seminar entitled "Be Negative: A Program on HIV/AIDS" held at KSU on February 3, 2004. During the presentation, the speaker revealed that, as a gay man, he is forever prohibited from donating blood. As such, I have chosen to develop a plan of action that will assist in lifting the gay blood ban. After some research, I learned that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the organization responsible for making the laws that prohibit gay men from donating blood. In fact, the law states that any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, even once, is banned from giving blood. Ironically, a heterosexual man can have unprotected anal sex with a female prostitute, and then donate blood twelve months later. However, a gay man in a monogamous relationship who practices safe sex is forever banned from donating his blood. The FDA's policy first originated in the mid-1980s, when the HIV and AIDS viruses were still new and testing methods could not be relied upon. During this period, tens of thousands of people became infected with HIV as a result of contaminated blood transfusions, and so it was reasonable for gay men to be excluded from blood donation. However, due to major advancements in HIV testing in the past twenty years, there is now very little risk of HIV-infected blood getting into the nation's blood supply. We have much more advanced methods of testing that can detect the presence of HIV or AIDS early on, and HIV infection from blood donations today are extremely rare. In fact, blood is checked and rechecked for HIV three (3) times. Therefore, there is no longer a valid reason for excluding gay men from blood donation. This debate has become so controversial, that many universities now prohibit the Red Cross from organizing blood drives on their campuses due to discrimination issues.
Plan of Action
According to the FDA's...
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