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Beth Cronin

Special Correspondent

Two weeks ago at HHS, students took time out of their school days to make a difference in the community and give blood to the Red Cross.

One in seven people who enter into a hospital needs blood. Many students, such as junior Jillian Murphy, claim that they would have given blood if it wasn’t for the discrimination against gay men.

According to the FDA, “Men who have had sex with other men (MSM), at any time since 1977 (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as blood donors.”

This rule that gay men are deferred as donors is discriminatory. Straight people are also at risk for HIV and AIDS, although gay men are at an increased risk according to statistics from 2008, but statistics have not been updated for seven years.

The only group that is targeted and deferred from donating blood is gay men because of the blood disease.

Other blood diseases such as Lyme disease are often caused by ticks. There was an estimated 33% of people with Lyme disease who did not know about their blood disease, while only 14% of people with AIDS do not discover their disease.

Around 300,000 people a year contract Lyme disease every year, mostly in New England.

The FDA needs to reevaluate their facts and be consistent with who they choose to defer from blood donations.

If so many cases go undiagnosed, shouldn’t the FDA defer hikers or veterinarians from giving blood?

Homosexual men are being targeted for contracting this specific disease, however, heterosexual people are certainly not immune from blood diseases. Homosexuals and heterosexuals alike are equally at risk for contracting other fatal blood diseases such as Hepatitis B or C.

Most people with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected with a blood disease. These people may donate blood unknowingly.

When the blood is received by Red Cross, all the blood is sent through a dozen different methods of cleaning. If the blood cannot be used, Red Cross notifies the donor immediately.

Since there is already blood cleaning included in the blood donation, why would Red Cross not invest in testing for HIV and AIDS?

With blood banks always trying to find new donors, opening the drives to gay men would allow for more blood to be donated and, in exchange, save more lives.

The FDA and Red Cross released a statement in December 2014 claiming that the rule to defer gay men is based on scientific data. They never touched upon the point that there are many other blood diseases, mentioned above, that are equally as possible to occur among different types and groups of people.

Singling out gay men for being the sole perpetrator of the AIDS epidemic is both outdated and uninformed. Gay men have even been targeted for causing Hurricane Katrina and an earthquake that hit New York right after gay marriage was legalized.

Between crazy conspiracies and uniformed accusations, the discrimination against gay men has to stop. All blood donations should be graciously accepted and tested. If the Red Cross really is in dire need of blood, they should be willing to accept all people’s, regardless of sexual orientation.

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