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BG Falcon Media

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September 21, 2023

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Blood donation policies exclude LGBTQ+ community, need reformation

Twice in the last few weeks, the American Red Cross has called me about blood drives they were having back home.

Twice I told the other person on the phone that I was in Bowling Green for school and they immediately started to tell me when the next blood drive was on campus.

Both times, after going around with them about how the Red Cross would really appreciate my donation and how I did not wish to donate blood any time soon, I wanted to so badly ask the person on the phone, “So, when are you going to lift the ban on gay men donating blood?”

But I stopped myself.

The policy is that if you are a male and you have had sex with another male since 1977, you are ineligible to donate blood.

The policy was put in place by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration in the 1980s after thousands of hemophiliacs and blood transfusion patients began dying of HIV/AIDS.

And while AIDS is still a very important disease to tackle in today’s medicine, I find this 30-year-old policy to be both outdated and counterproductive.

When the policy was put in place, AIDS was seen as an epidemic among homosexual and bisexual men. It was believed by society that this was a “gay disease” and was even at first called “gay-related immune deficiency” [GRID] because the group of cases that had the symptoms of AIDS were only gay males.

But it is 2014, not 1982.

Both society and medical experts and practitioners are better educated about HIV/AIDS— they’re more educated about how it forms, how it is contracted and who is at risk of contracting it.

And in the last 30 years, blood donation testing has become more thorough.

While you are donating blood, the nurse will take about three or four vials before letting the bag fill up. Those vials are put through 12 different types of testing to find out your blood type and to look for other infectious diseases.

The test results are then transferred to the manufacturing facility within 24 hours of the results being completed.

If a test result comes out positive for anything, that blood is discarded and then the donor is notified.

It is counterproductive for the American Red Cross to ask people to donate because they are low on blood while simultaneously discriminating against homosexual and bisexual males who are eligible to donate.

While blood, after being tested, is taken right to hospitals to be used in case of emergency transfusion, it only has a shelf life of 42 days. And after those 42 days, the blood is discarded, which calls for the demand of more.

Americans already donate 15.7 million pints of blood each year, but if they eliminated the ban completely, an estimated 615,300 more pints of blood would be added to the annual total. That means more blood on the shelf when other shelf lives for blood have expired.

Times are changing, medicine is advancing and blood tests are becoming more thorough in saying which blood goes on the shelf and which blood gets thrown out.

In a changing world, policies— even ones that have been in place for more than 30 years— have to change in order for companies and organizations to survive.

Respond to Erika at

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