Battle for Equality Now Sets It Sights On Blood Donations

As to be expected of such a monumental ruling, the ripples of the US Supreme Court ruling are still being felt. Now, those supporting lifting the ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men want blood donor equality.

A lift of the ban has been proposed by the US Food and Drug Administration, but with a catch: the new rules will still ban men who’ve had sex with men in the last year from donating blood.

President of the Project More Foundation, Nathan Svoboda had this to say: “We’re getting equality in other areas, but donor equality is still missing.”

The change to the rules was proposed as long ago as December by the FDA, and issued a draft guidance back in May. According to a statement from an FDA spokeswoman, the change is a priority but unfortunately there is no way of knowing when the change will be approved.

The change is much needed, as the current rule was imposed back in 1983, and bars gay and bisexual men from donating blood if they have had sex with a man since 1977. It is important to remember that this rule was put in place during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, but of course, things have changed drastically since then.

Naturally, while the change proposed by the FDA would be a huge improvement, it is still drawing some controversy because of the one year restriction. The rule even stretches to women who have had sex with men, who have themselves had sex with men in the previous year, as was reported by Raven Dunn who wanted to give blood at the annual National Gay Blood Drive on Friday.

The controversy has been backed up by some claims from the American Medical Society, as well as a few other medical and scientific groups. These groups do not support a ban because huge improvements in both safety and testing can prevent the transmission of HIV, and all blood donated in the US is already tested for HIV.

Raven Dunn spoke about the ban, stating that the ban makes no sense because technological and scientific advancements can ensure the blood if safe: “Discriminating against people for who they sleep with seems — and I’m going to use a polite word — archaic.”

It does seem logical that the next move would be to lift the ban entirely, with HIV testing blanket across all donors in the US, there seems no logical reason to barring people due to their sexual activity.  Since all blood is tested anyway, no special measures are needed, and it give a huge amount of people the chance to donate blood. Given that there is a shortage of blood donors, it seems like this is something that definitely needs to considered.