Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dark Ages

I am not usually a poster of political things, but this is from a friend of mine who wrote it himself from personal experience- and i just couldn't believe it. Can you?

From: MS
Date: Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Dear Dr. Hamburg,

Two days ago, I was turned away at a blood donation center because I’m gay. My excellent health and 11 years in a monogamous, committed relationship notwithstanding, I was told I’ll be similarly banned from any other center I approach (the American Red Cross, etc.) for the same reason. And there’s nothing they can do about it: it’s an FDA mandate, which they are obligated to follow.

So as I walked out of there with my “permanent deferral” – which sounds more like something you give to someone desiring to get out of something (e.g. military service) than to someone seeking to get into something – I truly couldn’t believe what had just happened.

If you’re a man who answers honestly that you have had sex with another man, even once, since 1977, you are shown the door. They cannot and will not consider any other factors – a clean bill of health; a lifestyle choice that involves long-term monogamy, commitment, and safe sex practices; a desire to give of one’s healthy blood because in doing so, there’s not only a health benefit to the donor, but also the win-win of that donation potentially serving someone in need. You’re out. Go to the back of the bus; don’t drink from that fountain; you’re potentially diseased. Your contribution is not wanted because of our government’s official perspective that gay = HIV, without exception.

Now, mind you, you are not asked for proof of your clean health, nor are you asked to prove that your answers on their general questionnaire are indeed the truth. So, I could have opted to lie. In just changing one little answer, my blood would now be in a collecting center, being tested for disease and (I am absolutely sure) being sent on to a place of need. Because that’s the kicker in all of this: they test all the blood they receive anyway. In fact, given the great advances in screening blood for HIV, similar blanket bans on gay blood donations have already been lifted in other countries, but not so in the United States.

So, of course, this “ban” is antiquated. It was put into effect in 1985, during a time of immense fear about HIV and AIDS, when the science (and understanding) was many more paces behind the disease than it is now. Fear has a way of limiting thinking, especially when it comes to our collective need for security. I get that. But after 25 years, we certainly know better.

Just last month, a letter was sent to you by Representative Mike Quigley and ten other members of Congress, asking that the agency reexamine its policy regarding gays and blood donation. I quote (and fully concur) with this statement from their letter: "For many individuals this permanent ban is seen as unfair, discriminatory and serving to simply perpetuate the negative stereotype that all men who have sex with men are HIV positive."

Dr. Hamburg, I am confident that you truly are reexamining this policy. Your record as New York City Commissioner of Health bears testament to your enlightened and sensible views on AIDS education. You've challenged the limited thinking that has perpetuated other outdated, unjust, and harmful policies. Now, you are in a position to be able to change this one.

I thank you for your consideration.




Shawn said...

Thanks for posting that, I wasn't even aware that was their policy.

I did a quick search and found a petition online trying to change this. Not sure if it will do any good but I did sign it.

Some members of congress have even sent a letter to the FDA asking this to be changed. Hopefully they will wise up and get this rule removed soon.

Dad said...

Nice to see that the Inquisition is alive and well :(

alexis said...

ditto thanks for posting this! What a silly law indeed and a terrible experience to have considering how outdated it is.

Lakeview Coffee Joe said...

Nice post! How retarded!! What the hell is wrong with medical professionals in government? They screw up healthcare and something as simple as this. Geesh,

Thanks Shawn for the petition!

Stephanie said...

Thank for the link Shawn!