When it comes to blood donation, the FDA stigmatizes and discriminates against all gay men. That is a simple fact. They allow promiscuous heterosexual men to donate blood when they walk in the door. If you are a gay man you have to state that you have not had sex with another man for at least 3 months. The FDA claims it’s due to HIV.
Here’s the point, a heterosexual man, single or married could have sex with an HIV-positive woman the week before he donates blood and not be asked that same question. Here’s another point: there are more promiscuous heterosexual men in the U.S. then all gay men combined. That is simple math, since we are only 6% of the population.
So the FDA is stating that they believe that all gay men are suspected of having HIV, even if they are in a monogamous relationship. But promiscuous heterosexual men can give blood without question or suspicion, even though, by the numbers, blood being donated from promiscuous heterosexual men has a higher chance of being HIV-positive than the blood of a monogamous gay man. That makes this ban homophobic and discriminatory.
All blood donated goes through a battery of tests. So why the discrimination and stigmatization?
This continues the right wing campaign to limit gay men to a single issue: our sex lives. That is the same tactic taken by the moral majority and the Republican party. They feel we are nothing but sex starved individuals. The fact is there are more sex starved promiscuous heterosexual men donating blood, and the FDA is not asking them that question. All gay men are harmed and stigmatized by this blatently discriminatory and homophobic policy of our federal government.
Our national organizations have all spoken out against this policy but their efforts failed in changing the policy. Here are some suggestions from an old activist.
The FDA is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. ACT UP made the FDA a point of confrontation during the height of the war on AIDS, maybe it should be a focus again.Since it is in the state of Maryland, which has a non-discrimination law that states that you cannot discriminate in public accommodation, the Attorney General of Maryland should file a charge of discrimination against the FDA, and so should other state Attorneys General. While the lawsuit may not work, it shines light and pressure on the issue. It’s an issue that ACLU and Lambda Legal might consider using their legal expertise. And of course we can hope that President Biden’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS does something to force the change. A policy shift has been long overdue. There is no reason to keep such discrimination alive.