In times of great need, blood donations are instrumental helping people with surgery, needing blood transfusions or other medically necessary procedures. Blood donations are readily accepted and appreciated from those who give. The Red Cross is one such entity collecting blood for use. When receiving blood from potential donors, it is apparent that there are numerous restrictions prior to donating for health safety reasons. For example, this link from the Red Cross describes what meets eligibility for those who want to be a blood donor http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/eligibility-requirements/eligibility-criteria-topic. Among the requirements the Red Cross list, there is section which stands out ‘You should not give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV.’ This sounds straight forward, until you read more closely,’ are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977.’ Now obviously this statement is pertaining to the risk of getting HIV and it sounds legitimate until you read the part where it says ‘a male having sex with another male even once‘. It begs to argue, can the one time encounter between two men all of a sudden give you HIV. Not only is this stereotyping, but also uneducated fear mongering.
Gay men targeted
Yes, it is possible to contract HIV through risky behavior and remotely in that one time encounter, but unsafe/risky behavior straight or gay, increases contraction of HIV. All gay men do not have HIV and there is much resentment stemming from the stereotype that only gay men have potential for HIV. There are plenty of gay men who are HIV negative and are viable candidates. There are numerous sexual dynamics which can have a person potentially contract HIV and be heterosexual. The risks are out there for every donor which facilities like the Red Cross test. Why single out just gay men?
Activism gives hope
This topic recently has sparked the gay community spring into action. People like Ryan James Yezak for example, who has recently formed Second Class Citizen, a campaign educating people about gay blood donors http://2ndclasscampaign.com/about/, are out there trying to tear down stereotypes involving gay men who want to donate blood to blood banks. Getting this message across to people and facilities who accept blood donations is a challenge, one which will hopefully breakdown yet another form of discrimination.