In the United States, when someone wishes to donate blood, they must answer a few simple questions in order to determine their eligibility. Some of the questions that are asked of blood donors include the following:
Are you between the ages of 17 and 60?
Do you have any type of blood clotting disorder?
Have you ever tested positive for HIV?
Are you, or have you ever had sex with, a man who has had sex with another man?
… Wait a sec. Something’s wrong with this picture. You would think that by asking if someone has ever tested positive for HIV would cover all of the medical worries that blood donation centers would have concerning allowing homosexual males to donate blood. Apparently, however, the American Association of Blood Banks and the American Red Cross disagree, and this enrages me on so many levels.
First of all, they ask all females if they have ever knowingly had sex with a man who has had sex with another man. They do not, however, ask males if they have had sex with a female who has had sex with a man who has had sex with another man. Nor do they ask females if they have ever had sex with a man who has had sex with a woman who has had sex with a man who has had sex with another man. I’m not sure if anyone has ever thought to inform the people who make the rules at the blood donation centers, but HIV does not somehow lessen in intensity the further you travel from the “source.” Therefore, there is absolutely no point in excluding people from being potential blood donors simply because they happened to have sex with someone of any gender or sexual history. Don’t they test the blood after they receive it, anyway?
As far as I can see on the Blood Donor History Questionnaire, homosexual men and their lovers are the only groups blatantly discriminated against when it comes to blood donation. (The rest make at least a little sense. Have you ever been a drug user? Are you underweight? Have you spent a significant amount of time in a foreign country after which point you could possibly have become a carrier for a disease that we would like to avoid giving to the person who would receive your blood?) It seems that the people who wrote the questionnaire forgot that African Americans are significantly more likely to have HIV than those of Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American descent. Heterosexual intercourse can also be pretty risky when it comes to women contracting HIV. I don’t see the American Association of Blood Banks or the American Red Cross taking any preventative measures in these areas… does that mean that it’s alright to be homophobic in practice as long as we aren’t racist or sexist?
I cannot donate blood without lying on the questionnaire. Neither can a significant majority of my closest friends. One day, it is my hope that the American Association of Blood Banks and the American Red Cross will see just how superfluous their discrimination of homosexual males and their lovers really is, and my demographic will be able to contribute to this life-changing cause.
To learn more, visit:
Content/Donate_Blood/Donor_ History_Questionnaires/AABB_ Blood_Donor_History_ Questionnaire/
(Equality Florida actually wants to use this one on their website! We're still in negotiations.)