Anyone that deigns to give blood or become an organ donor is a hero. You are literally giving of yourself to help someone else, probably a stranger, and you may be the difference between life and death. However, even those that make the conscience choice to do good works and be decent people, apparently, must maintain certain “acceptable” behaviors lest they be told, “Do Not Apply.” Of course I’m talking about the ban on gay male blood donors.

Back in the 80’s when we didn’t know much about HIV/AIDS and the homosexual community was largely ignored or discriminated against, HIV/AIDS was seen as the “Gay Disease.” This was because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at that time most AIDS cases occurred among whites homosexual males. Soon thereafter AIDS began spreading through intravenous drug use as well as other transmission methods and that’s when cases starting being identified in heterosexuals as well. Once the HIV/AIDS issue became an epidemic, the federal government got involved, “to protect the people.”

In 1983 the Food and Drug Administration implemented rules against men who have had sex — even once — with another man since 1977, stating that they are forbidden from donating blood. The purpose of this rule was to prevent HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from tainting the blood supply. Screening tests to identify HIV-positive blood had not been developed as of yet and so an all out ban seemed like an appropriate measure. Despite the fact that this is no longer the case as there are plenty of tests that can detect the virus, the ban remains in place. In 2010, gay males who have sex with other gay males cannot give blood, even if they don’t have HIV/AIDS.

Here’s the rub though; if you are a gay woman, you can apparently give all the blood you want. That is because lesbians are apparently not seen as a high-risk group for contracting HIV/AIDS as opposed to sexually active gay males. Though hundreds of thousands of woman have HIV/AIDS due to drug use or other methods of transmissions, the CDC still doesn’t consider them to be a “high-risk” group. The reason being, as near as I can tell, is because typically (though it’s not impossible) women don’t contract HIV/AIDS through having sex with other women. However, as I previously stated, the fact that they didn’t get HIV/AIDS through sex with women doesn’t negate the fact that they have the dreaded disease in the first place. And yet, they can give blood all the same.

So what I get from this is that the FDA is less interested in preventing episodes of tainted blood and more interested in discriminating against gay male sex. There is no other earthly reason why this ban should continue considering as we now have adequate testing to prevent almost all cases. Essentially this is the Gay Male Blood Donors version of the 1% doctrine, in which if there’s even a 1% chance there might be a lapse in testing and tainted blood gets through, then we throw the baby out with the bath water and just ban all gays from donating.

Mind you, heterosexual intercourse is the fastest-growing mode of HIV transmission in North America and the dominant mode of HIV transmission worldwide. I don’t see the FDA in a big rush to ban all sexually active heterosexuals, do you? In my mind, where there is this level of inconsistency, there must be bigotry.

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