Monday, October 17, 2011

A Donor Deferred: The Lifetime Ban on Blood Donations from Gay Men

via The Huffington Post, by Robert Valadez

"Save a life, give blood," read the sticker on a colleague's lapel. It sounds wonderful -- where do I sign up? Unfortunately, I can't donate blood because I'm gay. Many people are surprised to hear that gay men are prohibited from donating blood in most countries around the world, including the U.S. I've sat at several dinner parties, perched atop my advocacy soapbox, informing straights and gays alike of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) policy that permanently defers any man who has had sex with another man, even once, since 1977, from donating blood.

It wasn't long ago that I was unaware of the policy. Like many college students across the nation, I happily signed up to donate blood at the campus blood drive. In fact, I rallied a group of friends to join me in participating in one of our country's most noble civic duties. One by one, we were called to donate. However, when my name was called, I was escorted to speak with a phlebotomist rather than fitted with an arm tie and stress ball. I was informed that my blood would not be accepted. Not today, not ever again. It had nothing to do with having consumed questionable British meat products or having a deficiency in iron. Rather, I had answered yes to the question -- the one that asked if I had had sex with a man since the 1970s. Given that I was born in the 1980s, the question seemed oddly phrased to me, not to mention unclear as to the definition of sex. Regardless, I checked the box, unaware of its repercussions. Suddenly, I was blacklisted.

Read the rest.

[If an item is not written by an IRMA member, it should not be construed that IRMA has taken a position on the article's content, whether in support or in opposition.]

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