I recently decided that I wanted to experience giving blood for the first time. Buses from the Florida Blood Center come to Eckerd College every once in a while, and it is a quick and easy way to help people who are in need. I signed up, and was walking towards the buses when I noticed two of my friends sitting on a bench. I approached them to say hello and asked them what they were doing. They said that they were waiting for their friends to get done donating, and I asked them if they had donated. My friend said no, and as the question “why?” came out of my mouth, I realized I already knew the answer. My two friends are both male and are in a relationship together. I had completely forgotten that homosexual males, or anyone who has come in sexual contact with a male who has had sexual contact with another male after 1977 (just to make it confusing) are not allowed to donate blood.
The ban on homosexuals giving blood started in 1983 with the Food and Drug Administration, when it was widely believed that they were the ones who had HIV and AIDS, which is also written about in this article. It is such an outdated concept, in my opinion, that it didn’t even cross my mind that it was still in existence, because it makes absolutely no sense. With the advances in science and technology, and a better understanding of sexually transmitted diseases, we now know that anyone can contract a disease such as HIV or AIDS, or any other disease for that matter. Both hetero and homosexual people are equally susceptible to these diseases, and a person’s sexual orientation doesn’t protect them from getting a sexually transmitted disease. A straight person who has had unprotected sex is allowed to give blood, but someone who is gay is not. It doesn’t add up.
The ban on homosexual men giving blood brings up a lot of concern for human rights, but let's look at the other consequences as well. My two gay friends are completely physically eligible to give blood when it is in constant need by people all over the U.S., yet they are restricted legally because of their choice of partner. According to the Florida Blood Centers’ website, 4.5 million people need blood transfusions in the U.S. and Canada alone, yet only 38% of Americans are even able to give blood, and only 10% of those eligible actually give it. I think the fact that America is letting prejudice against homosexuals deprive people of blood that has the potential to save their lives is horrifying.
For a country that likes to see itself as progressive, this ban is anything but. There are many healthy adult homosexual males that I am positive would love to save a life by donating, but are restricted by old ideas that aren’t held up scientifically anymore. No matter what your religious or political views are, the facts are there: people need blood, and homosexuals are able to give it. While steps are being taken towards getting away from the past, it is slow going. As for now, I encourage those who are eligible to give blood, because it is for a great cause, and who knows, you could be the one needing blood one day. It is extremely simple and easy, and a great way to save lives.