Well Being

Gay Men May Finally Be Allowed To Donate Blood And All We Can Say Is That It’s About Time

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Gay Men May Finally Be Allowed To Donate Blood And All We Can Say Is That It s About Time shutterstock 181461233 640x426 jpg

Most people are aware of the lunacy of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that pertains to gays in the military. But did you know that gay men are also banned from donating blood?

Maybe you did, and maybe you didn’t. But I’m in the ‘didn’t know’ category, and feel like equal right’s just fell back decades of progress.

Luckily, in the words of Bob Dylan, ‘times, they are a changin:’ the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s ban on gay men donating blood could be reversed later this week.

The grossly outdated mandate was enacted in 1983, at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. At the time, scientists were struggling to understand the diseased caused by HIV, putting the ban into place amidst growing and exacerbated concerns about an ‘immune deficiency disease among gay men.’ According to The Washington Post, ever since then, ‘men who have sex with other men’ have been barred from donating blood due to fears of HIV spreading.

Um, what?!

I’m pretty sure all donated blood is tested before it’s given to another person in need. Also, at this point, AIDS is no longer a disease confined to gay men. In fact, it never was—but that’s beside the point. The truth of the matter is, anyone can contract the disease. So should anyone be banned from giving blood?

Well, no. Not only is that impractical, it’d be selling those in need of blood short.

Gay rights organizations, medical groups and law makers have honed in on this, and moved the FDA to reconsider the ban. An advisory group for human and health services called for a removal of the ban due to a lack of scientific evidence.

The Washington Post reports that an FDA advisory panel will convene for a two-day meeting on Tuesday to talk about altering the ban. Potential new rules, which were proposed by an advisory group from the Department of Health and Human Services, suggest men would have a 12-month deferral period in which they can’t have sex. Even that still seems a little ludicrous to me—and just about everyone else. But it is a step in the right direction.

The most important thing to realize? Today is World AIDS Day—a day that celebrates the progress and advancements we’ve made in the fight against the disease. So while progress is slow, today is a day to push it even further. You can join the fight here.

(Image via Shutterstock)