North Texas Daily

There should be no additional restrictions placed on LGBTQ men to donate blood

There should be no additional restrictions placed on LGBTQ men to donate blood

There should be no additional restrictions placed on LGBTQ men to donate blood
February 27
09:00 2020

Sometimes fear transcends logic, but for medical professionals to perpetuate misconceptions about vulnerable demographics out of fear is irrefutably unacceptable. The persistent characterization of gay men as harbingers of AIDS still makes itself known in rules regarding blood donation, despite the mandatory STD testing for all donors rendering these additional restrictions pointless.

Facebook came under fire last summer for bombarding gay men with blood donation related advertisements. These ads served as painful reminders of societal prejudice for their recipients, who were made to endure a lifelong ban regarding blood donation up until 2015, when the lifelong ban was supplanted by an indefinite deferral that now acts as something of an unofficial ban in itself. The following year, many gay men found themselves barred from legally donating blood to victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, a massacre prompted by the same prejudices that forged the offending FDA policies.

The AIDS epidemic terrorized gay and bisexual men in the 1980s and acting president Ronald Reagan deliberately neglected to intervene, worried that attempting to contain an epidemic that eliminated people his supporters deemed undesirable would diminish his popularity. A three-drug regimen was introduced in the late 1990s and reduced deaths by a significant margin, but AIDS continues to claim thousands of lives in the United States alone each year and continues to disproportionately affect LGBTQ men, especially those of color.

Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly, 1980s America did not harbor an appropriate amount of sympathy for the epidemic’s affected demographic. While LGBTQ people watched their community succumb to an apparent plague, — a community that often functioned as a family for those who had been cast aside by relatives — succumb to an apparent plague, fanatical conservatives such as televangelist Jerry Falwell and political consultant Patrick Buchanan, who worked for Ronald Reagan, smugly insinuated that AIDS had been sent by God to punish the homosexuals for their hedonism.

The majority of the general public either embraced or expressed indifference toward this rhetoric and regarded gay men as disease-riddled deviants. This mindset still prevails among some conservatives today. Street preachers protesting the existence of minorities visit UNT on an annual basis, waving signs that read “BLM are racist thugs” and “Got AIDS yet?” The UNT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas made an AIDS joke about UNT GLAD last year in a now deleted tweet.

  

The thing is, even the disproportionate rate of LGBTQ men affected by AIDS doesn’t justify this particular microaggression, as every blood donor is already required by law to be tested for STDs, rendering the deferral essentially useless. The American Medical Association and the American Red Cross both petitioned for an end to the lifelong ban, recognizing its detrimental impact on blood donation organizations as a whole. There is no legitimate reason to prevent gay men from doing their part for those in need other than to wanton discrimination, yet the FDA refuses to do away with all prejudicial policies against them, even at the expense of potential donation recipients who could benefit from the additional help.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

I am a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. I was born in Austin, Texas, and currently live in Denton with my roommate and starter cat, Gen.

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1 Comment

  1. Audrey Vieira
    Audrey Vieira February 27, 10:36

    I really liked this column, especially when you talked about how there are already laws in place to test donors for STDs and called out the homophobic rhetoric behind the FDA’s restrictions. It’s painful to see potential donors willing to give be turned away because of such a discriminatory policy.

    Reply to this comment

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