Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Homophobia still haunts modern blood donation

UMass should take a stand

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Homophobia still haunts modern blood donation

Flickr Creative Commons: MamaYe!

Flickr Creative Commons: MamaYe!

Flickr Creative Commons: MamaYe!

Flickr Creative Commons: MamaYe!

By Jake Russian, Collegian Columnist

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Unfortunately, the frequency of local blood drives has become a necessity of modern medicine. Blood donations are critical to ensure that patients in dire need of a transfusion are able to obtain one—but often we do not truly notice the underlying homophobia at work in American blood drives.

Per order of the Federal Drug Administration, there exists a stipulation to exclude cis-gender gay men and transgender gay men from donating their blood in service of others. All blood collection organizations must follow the rule that a man cannot donate blood if he has had sexual contact with another man over the course of the past 12 months, including men who are in long-term, monogamous relationships. This federal requirement is not only discriminatory to gay and transgender people, but it is also completely unfounded in terms of its purpose.

Excluding men with same-sex relations from donating blood does not prevent the spread of infectious disease through blood donation, it only emboldens those seeking ways to suppress others based on sexual orientation.

Such a rule encourages the belief that men who identify as gay are solely susceptible to HIV/AIDS, which is false. Anyone, no matter their sexual orientation, can contract this disease by exchanging certain body fluids. In fact, those who identify as female and participate in sexual relationships with other women are not barred from donating blood in the United States under the 12-month celibacy rule.

I find it very concerning that our government continues to perpetuate the notion that gay men are the foremost carriers of disease. This is blatantly homophobic. Blood collection organizations are ordered to defer these prospective donors without even considering negative sexually transmitted disease results. This FDA regulation has many errors in logic, but quite simply leaves a large group of viable donors unable to give blood during times of extreme need.

Numerous times throughout the academic year, the University of Massachusetts hosts the American Red Cross as they collect blood donations from those who are eligible and willing to participate. Surely hosting a blood collection at a large university is a surefire tactic to encourage donations from a big group of people, but gay students who identify as male are excluded from the event. How fair is the University acting by inviting an organization that must discriminate against LGBTQ+ men on campus to conduct its business? I do believe blood donations are of the utmost importance, but I do not think that our University should allow such a polarizing group to openly prohibit specific students from participation on a campus they actively pay to attend. Not only is this offensive, but it is abjectly uncomfortable to be around. I find it worrisome that one of the supposed “most liberal” higher education institutions in the United States has not taken issue with these restrictions.

UMass’ decision to host these blood drives indirectly endorses the deplorable rules set forth by the FDA. Effectively, the University has signaled that it does not care whether or not the rules exclude a large group of its students based on unfounded scare tactics used against gay men in society. I urge the administration of our University to seriously reconsider the gravity of hosting such an event in the future, and I hope that a better understanding of the restrictions in place will highlight the ways blood collection practices continue to unfairly profile gay men. Adjustments to the system for qualifying as a blood donor must be made immediately; it is senseless to put lives in danger over damaging and false stereotypes.

Jake Russian is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

4 Comments

4 Responses to “Homophobia still haunts modern blood donation”

  1. NITZAKHON on November 28th, 2018 7:15 am

    Yes, anyone can catch HIV, but the new cases are, overwhelmingly, among gay men who have become emboldened by progress in treating the disease to renew “bareback” habits.

    CDC: Gay Men 2% of Population But 67% of All New HIV Cases
    https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/cdc-gay-men-2-population-67-all-new-hiv-cases

    When HIV was found and its infectious pathway discovered the gay community admirably stepped up; infection rates fell. It is a 100% preventable disease – get tested, know your status, tell your status to your partner, and understand that while there is “safer” sex there is no “safe” sex. It’s called being responsible.

    Now let me be clear: whether someone is straight or gay, HIV-positive or not, is not a cause for discriminating against them. But when one particular demographic, in this case gay men, is overwhelmingly the prime vector for HIV’s continued existence, prudence dictates the rules.

    And unless you are 100% sure you are HIV-negative, even as a gay man, do you really want to think – even have a scintilla of doubt – that your donation might have infected someone?

  2. Lou on November 28th, 2018 12:58 pm

    This is the best article the collegian has written in a long time! I can’t think of the last time I read satire this good!

  3. amy on November 30th, 2018 1:12 pm

    The reason this exists is because the majority of HIV cases is caused by and exists in by homosexuals and the second largest cause is drug use. Liberals are devoid of reason and always side on the side of something emotional, basically they want to expose others to a deadly disease because it may hurt the feelings of gay men.

    That’s not only irrational it’s unethical, immoral. A reasoned approach would be the safety of the majority of people and even ironically homosexuals themselves who received blood donations is more important than appeasing feelings of a small group and also to conform a liberal opinion.

    I suggest a compromise Two types of blood donations. One donated by gay men unscreened and one with the existing rule in place.

    Liberals can use the former and get a sticker and brag about it on social media that they are ‘tolerant’ and ‘inclusive’.

  4. NITZAKHON on December 2nd, 2018 6:24 pm

    @Amy:

    Love your idea. 🙂

    Are you familiar with Evan Sayet’s seminal essay?

    https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/regurgitating-the-apple-how-modern-liberals-think

    Sayet’s essay ties in well with Sowell, who has opined that Leftists need to differentiate themselves from the knuckledraggingslopedforeheads (that’s you and I). To do so the look at us – loving America, thinking it’s exceptional, opposing the failures of Socialism – and they must, MUST choose the opposite, for how can they be “special” and “elite” if they agree with the majority?

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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