Today, July 11, a donation and protest effort will take place in 61 cities across the country in order to raise awareness for the effort to end the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood. The National Gay Blood Drive is its second year to raise awareness for their effort. Last year, 1,000 participants were involved.
The effort involves gay men arriving at a blood drive location with another person —an ally or proxy—who is able to give blood in their stead. The gay men will fill out paperwork, knowing they’ll be denied, but they’re hoping the FDA will take note of just how many gay men are willing to donate. They’re hoping that these rejected applications, as well as the postcards they send along, will help convince the FDA to pull back a ban that was put into place in 1983.
That ban was created at a time when it was not easy or effective to test for HIV in blood. As a consequence of that, men who have sex with men (MSM) have been barred from donating blood completely. However, now, testing for HIV has been simplified; there are even at-home tests. But still at issue, is that fact that someone positive with HIV can still test negative within the first 11 days of infection.
This year, the group has also started a White House petition. The group has one month (which will end on july 30) to get 100,000 signatures for the current administration to issue a response.
The argument for ending the ban is that it is discriminatory, and though the FDA has an obligation to monitor and protect those who receive the blood, the ban is no longer based on current science. Last year, the American Medical Association issued their support for ending the ban and proposed that bans be applied on a case-by-case basis, depending on each person’s level of risk.
With blood shortages being such a problem, especially in times of emergency, would you support ending the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood?