Is all blood good blood?

Trevo'N Brooks '19, Reporter

About 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to vote with only 10 percent actually donating. What about all the people who aren’t eligible to donate? As one of those who cannot donate, I can personally tell you it is a bit of a bummer.

In the United States, there are several groups of people who are unable to donate blood, some because of illness or medical condition others like myself because of an outdated rule. As a gay man I cannot donate blood because of a fear that I may have AIDS or HIV.

“I doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight; skinny or fat,” said senior Luther Alexander. “If your blood is good, you should be able to donate.”

Men who have sex with men have higher rates of HIV and other STIs due to a wide range of risk factors including not using condoms and other contraceptives. Despite these concerns, the majority of men who sleep with men get tested for these diseases regularly.

Along with testing many gay men and other groups of people use PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) which protects those who have not been exposed to diseases when used together with safe-sex practices and taken daily.

“I would at least tell them to get tested before donating instead of telling them no right off the bat,” senior Maya Clark said. “Someone might really need blood and you stopped them from getting it.”

Though the guidelines for donating blood are meant to ensure safety and that the quality of the blood is the best, it can be they are misguided in their execution. The fear that prevents people from donating is a fear that has carried on from the AIDS crisis in the late 1900s.

Since 1981, close to 636,000 people have died from AIDS in the United States. There are about 50,00 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. The conditions created by the blood donation rules don’t only ensure that blood used they also help to promote negative attitudes towards gay men.

“I’ve had several friends of mine pass due to these laws,” said Alumnus Angel Clements who is a LGBTQ+ lifestylist. “If there was anything to help this [AIDS], there needs to be ‘Blue Cross’ for people who do have been affected, people with AIDS can donate [blood] to others with AIDS.”

For many people these regulations haven’t just kept some people safe they’ve put others in danger. The prejudice and negativity created by these laws has caused strife for many people within the LGBTQ+ community

“What’s the difference between a gay man and a straight man?” says Alumnus Brandi Melow wife of Angel Clements. “I know more straight people with AIDS than gays.”

Though the rules for donation may serve the purpose of protecting the whole of America they fail to use modern technology to solve the issue of only 39 percent of Americans being able to donate; with the majority of gay men getting tested regularly on top of taking PrEP.

Those who get tested with clean results should be allowed to donate, all of the blood being used is tested before it even reaches a single patient. If the blood is going to get tested before it is cleared for use where’s the harm in letting these men donate?

“They think that an STI can be dormant, you can get tested in November but it won’t be there till December,” Said anatomy teacher Mrs.German “They test for antibodies and they might not be there[when you get tested].”

Though I think the rules for MSM blood donations are greatly flawed, they do serve a purpose. I believe that America as a country should put in the necessary effort to help reform these rules.

I also encourage all people who are sexually active, no matter their sexuality race or gender, to get tested regularly at least every three months. There are over 20 clinics in the metro-Detroit area that do STD testing. December is also HIV awareness month with multiple pharmacies, like Walgreens, offering free testing to those who need it.