Are you a guy who has ever had sex with a guy? How about a woman who has had sex with a guy who has had sex with a guy in the past year? How about just slutty? Well, guess what? The FDA still bans you from donating blood because they assume that you have HIV. Yeah. Despite the fact that ALL blood is now screened for HIV and other blood borne illnesses, and everyone with a brain knows that HIV isn’t a “gay disease.”
This policy is just a big old public health fail that perpetuates discrimination. Gay men could be using condoms religiously, be monogamous, etc., because of the history of elevated risk among their demographic, and still not be allowed to donate blood. Meanwhile, married women who don’t know that their husbands are cheating on them are considered safer by the FDA. The ban on sex workers giving blood is only a year; the ban on gay and bi men is forever. NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE. The only real way to know that the blood is safe is to test it, which we now do regularly.
Enter the National Gay Blood Drive. It’s tomorrow, from 7:30 to 2:30 at blood donation sites across the country. You don’t even have to give blood, just show up, get tested for HIV, get DENIED from giving blood, and go home. Check out http://www.gayblooddrive.com/ for a site near you.
They also need volunteers to hand out information on this effort. I was going to do that as an ally and then I learned that they totally won’t let me give blood either (because I’m a slut dating a bisexual slut [with impeccable safer sex practices]), so I get to be in the statistics too!
I know this is a heavy lift, and short notice. To be honest, I’m worried about the turnout, for such a short window on a work day. Sometimes you get a really good idea, but then implementing it is a challenge. I wish there were a way to do online advocacy about this, but this really is one of those times where you have to show up as you, bearing your sexual history. I’ve never felt better about adding 2 hours of volunteering and an HIV test into an already packed work day, though.