World Blood Donor Day was just this past weekend. It is a global effort to raise awareness about the necessity of blood donation and the World Health Organization announced its goal of achieving 100% voluntary donors to support the global blood supply by 2020. This is a perfect time to be aware of this potential – and extremely impactful and empowering – change in FDA regulation. A change, however, that needs to be stronger to be truly meaningful.
In 1983, the FDA enacted a life-long ban that prevented any man who had engaged in a same-sex encounter since 1977 from donating blood. In May 2015, the FDA announced the draft of a recommendation to release of that life-long ban, with a new recommendation for a one-year abstinence. There is a 60 day public comment period; public comments are being accepted through July 14, 2015.
A one year abstinence is a step, but is still medically unwarranted discrimination.
If sexually transmitted diseases cannot be detected by testing, and a one-year period of abstinence is required to ensure that the blood supply is safe, then individuals should be abstinent for at least one year in order to be eligible to donate blood.
Heterosexuals and homosexuals potentially engage in promiscuous behavior, and as the blood of each can equally be tested, they should be treated the same.
How many adults do you know who have spent a year without physical human intimacy, including those with a monogamous life partner/spouse? So… How many individuals who were not previously able to donate because of the life-long ban do you think will be able to donate blood if this recommendation goes through?
A one-year waiting period that discriminates against gay males is not good enough. The FDA should consider what the actual risk behavior is – e.g., number of partners over time – and without regard to sexual orientation, enact regulations that promote a safe blood supply while empowering more donors to save lives.
Read over the information in the links below, do some research of your own, and add your voice. The deadline for responding is July 14, 2015.
A thought for personal reflection: Someone said to me today that “steps” toward equality can serve as reminders of inequality. Do you think steps toward genuine respect for others are necessary? meaningful? Do they help inform positive change? What is the difference between making someone feel valued, and truly valuing them?
- Draft recommendation from the FDA
- Add your voice: Click on “comment now” (upper right)
- National Gay Blood Drive
Also of note – SCOTUS decision will be “out” soon regarding gay marriage. Join BE. Orlando and friends in celebrating the landmark decision – regardless of outcome – on June 29th.
- Join BE at the Obgerfell v. Hodges decision celebration
- SCOTUS official home page
- SCOTUS Blog
- Obergefell v. Hodges
- The Fourteenth Amendment
- 14th Amendment LOC documents in American History