In the midst of the 1980's AIDS crisis, the American Red Cross placed a blanket ban on gay men donating blood. While this offended many gay men it was a somewhat understandable action to take considering AIDS was a very misunderstood and sweeping epidemic that required a better safe than sorry attitude to save lives.
However, what is not acceptable is the same restrictive policy existing decades after both homosexuality and AIDS are much better understood and have had their stigmas removed.
This is the first concern that causes the FDA recent announcement that they will abandon the blanket ban on homosexual men from donating blood to ring a bit hollow.
It would not exactly be a progressive move to desegregate a water fountain in 2015, and neither is it a cause for huge celebration for this organization to finally catch up to the times.
Despite the lethargy with which the ban was lifted the move may have been greeted with favor if it weren’t for the additional stipulation that the FDA added to their blood donation rules in lieu of the ban.
Essentially, the new rule stipulates that gay men are now allowed to donate blood…but only if they have been abstinent for at least a year.
To use the water fountain analogy again, this would be like allowing a black person to use a water fountain if they paint their face white.
The addition of this extra rule in place of the ban is more disparaging than the initial restriction ever was.
Although outdated, the initial ban, at least, made some sense as it was initially created in response to a public health concern. This new restriction, however, does not offer anything in the same sense of rational practicality.
Modern science and testing methods have progressed to a point where a sexually active gay man should be considered no more of a risk to blood donation than his heterosexual counterpart.
The FDA took what could’ve been a step forward for their organization and turned it into both a PR nightmare and a giant leap backwards.
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