No Sex For A Year With Other Men, Says FDA; Discrimination?
Now males who have not had sex with other men in a year can donate blood, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The ban, which used to be life-long since the 1980s, has now been reduced; it essentially states that a man who has sex with men can donate blood only if they have been celibate for a year. That’s right: no sex for a year with another man.
Elise Johansen, Executive Director of Equality Maine, feels it is still discriminatory.
“It feels so terrible to be seen as dirty and a risk and not wanted,” Johansen said. “It still feels really discriminatory because it’s not a ban based on science, it’s based on stigma and bias.”
The ban itself was instated in 1983, early in the A.I.D.S epidemic. At that time, little was known about the HIV virus, but current technologies make it so that infection can be detected after nine days.
In remarks, the FDA stated that “compelling scientific evidence is not available at this time to support a change to a deferral period less than one year while still ensuring the safety of the blood supply.”
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the advocacy group, however found the policy offensive and harmful as according to them it “continues to perpetuate discrimination against gay and bisexual men.”
“There’s so many people in our families and in our community that need blood and it would be so wonderful to be able to say, you know what, I donated blood today and I’m really proud I did so and you should do so too,” Johansen said.
It is estimated that if there were no restrictions on men who have sex with other men, that could mean an additional 615,300 additional pints of blood, allegedly an increase between two and four percent.
Actor Alan Cumming along with the GMHC and GLAAD has launched a campaign titled the Celibacy Challenge. The video that introduces the campaign is rather tongue-in-cheek as it seeks to expunge the absurdity of the FDA’s latest announcement.
The campaign also urges people to sign a petition to ask the FDA to screen prospective donors based on risk, rather than on sexual orientation or gender identity.