Topic: Phil Gardner of Washington State has proposed to modify FDA major donation policy regarding gay men by repealing the 1983 ban on blood donation for those reporting male-to-male sexual contact.

Both Sides Now:

Pro Arguments: This policy discriminates against homosexuals. The logic behind it is no longer applicable. Originally, it was believed that gays were more susceptible to HIV and AIDS, but technology has shown us that this is not the case. In addition, the quality of HIV testing has drastically changed in the decades since the passage of this policy. When a male goes to donate blood, he is asked if he has had sexual relations with another male since 1977. If the answer is yes, he is permanently banned from donating blood. This is denying already depleted blood resources. So even if the male has an unusual blood type, he is not allowed to donate blood. If a gay male knows a terminally ill patient who is need of a blood donation, that male is still not legally allowed to give blood. Since the advancement of testing, this policy only serves as a discriminatory measure and is, in the long run, harmful to the health of others. The only person in that scenario who suffers is the terminally ill patient. In addition, the policy also virtually ignores the health risk posed by heterosexual donors who’ve been exposed to HIV or AIDS. When the policy was created, it was traditionally thought that homosexuals were much more likely to contract HIV or AIDS, but today this is simply not the case.

Con Arguments: The purpose of the Food and Drug Administration is to protect and promote the health of the American people. They have decided that the risks of homosexuals donating blood far out way the benefits. It has been shown through a variety of research that men who engage in sexual relations with other males are at a higher risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis B, and other infections that are transmittable through transfusions. According to the FDA, “Men who have had sex with men since 1977 have an HIV prevalence 60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first time blood donors and 8000 times higher than repeat blood donors (American Red Cross). Even taking into account that 75% of HIV infected men who have sex with men already know they are HIV positive and would be unlikely to donate blood, the HIV prevalence in potential donors with history of male sex with males is 200 times higher than first time blood donors and 2000 times higher than repeat blood donors.” These statistics are just not small enough. Even though testing for HIV and other infectious diseases that can be passed through transfusions can be done, this testing is still not one hundred percent accurate. It is not worth it to put even one life on the line.

Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration