Editorial: it is time to end government-sponsored discrimination at blood drives

Every semester Cosumnes River College welcomes BloodSource onto campus in order to spend two days collecting blood from students who wish to donate. Their most recent visit to the campus was on April 14 and 15.

Most students and faculty are able to walk right into the BloodSource buses, roll up a sleeve and go about their day. But for some students and faculty it’s not that easy.

The federal Food and Drug Administration bans any man, gay or bi-sexual, that has had sex with another man within the last calendar year from donating blood, according to The New York Times.

Originally, the decades-long ban stated that gays and bi-sexual men could not donate blood. The FDA made changes to that ban at the end of 2014, in a move they claimed would help against a national policy allowing discrimination.

Except that their so-called solution still allows discrimination: gay men can donate blood, as long as they are sexless.

The original ban was enacted in 1983 during the AIDs epidemic, because little was known about AIDs or HIV and there was no quick test to determine if someone had it or not, according to The New York Times.

Focus was on the fact that gay men had contracted the disease, so they were banned from donating blood.

Science has advanced, something the FDA acknowledged in their lifting of the original ban, according to The New York Times, and the knowledge and understanding of AIDs and HIV has advanced as well.

Supporters of keeping the lighter ban in place point to the fact that there are stipulations on others about blood donation as well. Those rules from the FDA include barring anyone who has travelled to areas where malaria is common from donating for a year and keeping any heterosexuals who have had sex with prostitutes or injected drugs from donating for the same period of time.

The bans for heterosexuals engaging in any of those behaviors is also a year, just like the amount of time gay and bi-sexual males are banned. That is where any similarity between the bans ends.

Those straight people choosing to shoot up with drugs and have sex with a prostitute are choosing to engage in dangerous behaviors that could infect them and therefore infect others if their blood was used for a transfusion.

While some gay and bi-sexual men choose to engage in risky behaviors, those that do not don’t deserve to be banned from doing something that can help so many others who could use that blood.

No one is stopping straight couples who have regular sex from donating blood: yet they are capable of contracting AIDs or HIV.

According to the article from The New York Times about the policy change, AIDs and HIV in the blood can be detected anywhere from 9 to eleven days after donation with the tests that are run on blood.

In fact every bit of blood that BloodSource, and other blood donation facilities, gathers is tested before put into general use. No one’s blood is just taken and then shipped right to the hospital to be put into someone’s arm right away.

That would be utterly irresponsible. There are more diseases or conditions that can be passed on through blood than AIDs and HIV.

With the tests that can be used there is no reason to keep any sort of ban on gay men. It is discrimination, plain and simple.

We the people have the power to step up and call for an end to such draconian policies that have no logical or factual reason to even still exist.

The FDA may think they did a good thing by reducing the ban, but we still have government sponsored discrimination in place.

It’s disgusting and it needs to change.