This past Sunday a horrible act of terrorism occurred at Pulse Night Club, a gay club located in Orlando, Florida.
An armed gunman entered the club and opened fire killing 49 people and leaving over 50 other injured.
Local hospitals were in desperate need of blood and encouraged people to come out and donate to help save the lives of the victims of the shooting.
But because of the restrictions set out by the FDA, gay men, the group of people that was targeted during this attack, were not allowed to donate.
These “deferrals,” as the FDA calls them, were first put in place in 1983, during the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.
They were put into place back when there still wasn’t much information out there about HIV/AIDS and a false stigma existed that made people think only gay people could contract the disease, which we now know to be far from the truth.
It is true that back then HIV/AIDS were more common within the LGBT+ community, but that is because at the time the use of protection during sex wasn’t thought to be necessary and was rarely ever used.
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The FDA had initially banned any man who had sexual contact with another man and any women who has had sexual contact with a man who had sexual contact with another man.
In 2015 the rules were loosened up slightly and now only restricts men who have had sexual contact with another man within the last twelve months. This prevents any sexually active gay man to be a donor.
These rules are outdated and this week prevented some members of the LGBT+ community from being able to give blood to help support and potentially save lives of the victims of their own community who were attacked.
In recent years precautions been taken within the LGBT+ community to raise awareness about contracting HIV/AIDS as well as the importance of using protection and getting regularly tested.
There have also been many scientific advancements since the restriction was first put into place and now all donated blood is screened for many different types of blood-borne, diseases including HIV/AIDS.
The ban on gay men donating blood needs to be lifted.
It was written decades ago based fear and false stigmas.
We have progressed far enough to know now that any person can contract HIV/AIDS, not just gay men.
We need to stop excusing these negative stereotypes and make a change to these rules.
Every healthy and able person should be able to help their communities and donate in trying times such as these, and we need to no longer let ignorance stop them from doing so.
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