As of Dec. 20, 2015 “men who have sex with men” (MSM) are now allowed to donate blood a year after their last sexual contact with another man.
While this is a step in the right dirtection, there is still room for improvement.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) overturned what used to be a lifetime ban for MSM, after strong opposition from the LGBTQ community and supporters.
The FDA claims that the new policy is not discriminatory since their decision was based on the best available science.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also agrees that MSM are the most at-risk group for human immonodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS).
The FDA’s current policy for MSM matches the policy for people who have sex with sex workers.
However, there is a stunning lack of data related to the risk factors for sex workers, since studies are hard to conduct when the population targeted is all in danger of incarceration.
HIV testing is also not 100 percent accurate, which supports reasoning for a lifetime ban.
The FDA and the CDC also do not clarify if MSM includes or excludes transgender men in their studies.
Anyone who has ever tested positive for HIV, exchanged sex for drugs or money or injected illicit
drugs is still barred from giving blood.
What does this say about how far the LGBTQ
community has come to defeat stereotypes?
There are plenty of MSM who are not at risk for HIV and are very willing to donate blood, but are
unable to do so if they are honest.
Many hospitals experience chronic blood
donation shortages, especially in emergency situations.
While I am not suggesting that the blood screening process be hastened and risk infections, it is frustrating that upwards of four percent of the population are currently discouraged from donating blood, when over 92 percent of that population does not have HIV. That is over five million Americans.
We can do better.
The FDA changed its policy because people have been yelling about this for years, but we cannot settle.
We must become louder.
Feb. 25, 2016