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Lift The Lifetime Ban On Blood Donation By Gay Men

Canada and many other nations have indefinitely delayed blood donation to men who sex with them since 1983. Based on current HIV/AIDS information, this was put in place. The disease was blood-borne and most common among gay men. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention forbade any man from 1977 or later to donate blood. Because this date predated the outbreak, it would reduce the chance of getting infected blood from gay men. Canada’s law allows women to donate blood after they have sex one year after their encounter. This rule shouldn’t be applied to males. I believe gay men all over the world should have the right to donate blood after they have been abstinence-free or sex without any restrictions.

In the 1980’s, it was necessary to create an indefinite deferral. This deadly disease was only recently discovered. The FDA was worried that blood donation would lead to an epidemic. While discriminatory, FDA and CDC supported the idea with two clear benefits: indefinite deferral. They are 1) no risk of accidental blood contamination and 2) preventive transfusion of HIV-infected units (Wainberg Shuldiner Dahl Gilmore1323). The FDA states that anyone who completes the donor risk questionnaire is deferred. If you have recently had a vaccination, there is a two-week deferral, and a twelve month deferral after getting tattoos or piercings. However, an indefinite deferral is available for gay men who are sexually active. Countries such as Australia, Japan, Hungary, Sweden, and Japan have all reduced their deferrals to one years. To donate blood, a gay man must not have been drinking for at least one calendar year. South Africa allows donors after six months’ abstinence. New Zealand is open to donations after 10 year. CTV News reported that Canada lifted a ban of gay men giving blood for nearly 30 years. If a man hasn’t had sex within the last five years, a gay man may donate blood. Spokesperson Mark Wainberg agreed that this is “a positive step.” Devine, vice-president for medical, scientific, and research affairs at Canadian Blood Services says that this will allow men who have ever experimented with drugs or been raped or sexually assaulted to finally donate. This type is more inclusive and gay Canadian males should consider donation if their standards permit. This type deferral should be made available to all people, and I think it should. CTV News article explains that there is no limit to the benefits men can receive if they have not had a relationship with another male in the last five-years. This could be for men who were abused, experimented upon or who chose to abstain.

Even though gay marriage is still prohibited in the United States today, there are more articles about the difficulties that gay American men experience with deferral. The National Gay Blood Drive campaign brought together 61 American cities to protest the ban and collect blood. Every gay man who attended had one or more friends/proxies to donate blood for them. The men were denied the donation history questionnaire while they were there. The FDA received their questionnaires and letters from the men describing their desire of donating blood. They hope this will show the FDA how many gay men are willing to donate blood to help those in need. The American Medical Association (AMA), voted against the ban in a Times Magazine article. According to a spokesperson, the ban is not supported by sound science. Furthermore, the disease is more fully understood. The AMA recognizes the dangers are still present but asks that men be deferred based only on their own risk and not their sexual orientation. This suggestion by the AMA seems to be valid. It is discriminatory to deny men the right of donation based upon their sexual orientation. Anyone identifying themselves as homosexual must be allowed to disclose their personal risk. The information provided can help determine the risk to each individual.

Zingman is an American doctor and director of the AIDS Center in Montefiore Medical Center. He states that even though the recent Canadian move was questionable, it is a step in the right directions. However, it is closer to reality than a lifetime ban. But, still a long window. Although the deferral for five years is longer and more difficult for certain gay men, it is far better than the lifetime ban. Canada has implemented a deferral type that I think should be worldwide. Shorter deferral times are acceptable in countries like South Africa where blood donations are very important. Each country should allow for a maximum five year period of abstinence. People in need will be helped by the extra blood donation made by an abstinent homosexual man.