By Amanda Morrison, PULSE
*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Michigan and/or its affiliates.
If you haven’t tried donating blood, you may be in for a shock. While U of M prides itself on its ever more frequent blood drives in the face of ongoing blood shortages, part of our population is being silenced at a nationwide level. Men who have had sex with men (MSM), even once, are “indefinitely deferred” from donating blood in the U.S. as mandated by the FDA. This ban still holds even with public disapproval by the Red Cross, and other countries removal or modification of this ban (see Wikipedia’s table of countries and their stance of MSM blood donors).
There’s also a great blog post here from Ken Schneck, PhD, arguing against this ban even above issues such as marriage equality. While this used to be a valid issue due to HIV/AIDS scares, it is surprising that with the advancements in blood testing technologies that a lifetime ban is still viewed as acceptable. Additionally, other subsets of the population at risk for transmitting HIV/AIDS are not subjected to such a ban. Some universities have taken measures against this ban, either by stopping blood drives completely or holding special blood drives in honor of those who are ineligible to donate due to this ban. It will be interesting to see if any form of protest comes from us here at the University of Michigan.
To learn more about the blood donation process and how blood is tested, check out the links below!
- Donation FAQ’s (Red Cross)
- Eligibility Requirements (Red Cross)
- Blood Safety (CDC)
- Donor History Questionnaire (AABB)