Turning away needed blood
An American Red Cross commercial states that every few seconds, there is someone in need of a blood donation. But what the commercial doesn't say is that if you are a homosexual man, they don't want your donation. The Red Cross does not allow any man who has had homosexual sex since 1977 to donate blood.
They are refusing donations from individuals who want to help on the basis of their sexual orientation. The American Red Cross created the policy because men who engage in homosexual sex are at a higher risk for transmitting diseases.
The Center for Disease Control reports 40,000 new cases of HIV in the United States annually. Men are more likely to contract HIV than women, and the center estimates that about 60 percent of men were infected through homosexual sex, 25 percent through injection drug use, and 15 percent through heterosexual sex.
The statistics do show a high instance of HIV being transmitted through homosexual sex. In that respect, the Red Cross does have a valid point. It appears that homosexual men are more likely than straight men and women to have contracted HIV.
But this does not mean that it is acceptable for the Red Cross to refuse blood donations from men who have engaged in homosexual sex. They would never think of refusing blood donations based on ethnicity, although there might be a higher instance of HIV amongst a certain ethnic group.
Of the total number of HIV positive men, 50 percent are black, 30 percent are white, 20 percent are Hispanic and a small percentage are members of other racial or ethnic groups. Should we then bar black men from donating?
The general public would be outraged if blood from a certain ethnic group was refused. Yet somehow, the Red Cross has deemed it appropriate to refuse blood from gay men. If the Red Cross refuses to discriminate according to race, it should not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
This statute is discriminatory as well as being outdated. Homosexual men are barred from donating if they've had sex with another man in the last 20 years, but this time period is ridiculously long-term. If a man engaged in homosexual intercourse over 20 years ago, HIV would have shown up in his blood long before now. Donor blood is carefully screened. If HIV was present in the blood, it would show up in the first screening. [NOTE: ever hear of a false negative result? -- FormerLib]
Instead of refusing donations from men who have engaged in homosexual sex, the Red Cross should simply red-flag the blood, and keep it longer for extra testing. The Red Cross could do this for all donations they feel might be questionable, such as blood from donors who engage in unprotected sex or intravenous drug use.
By red-flagging the blood, the Red Cross could simultaneously protect the recipients of donated blood and put a stop to blatant discrimination.
Actually, they do. If you ever lived in the UK or spent more than a certain number of weeks there, you can't donate blood. The same is true for a number of African countries. I'm a regular blood donor, so I know first hand.