HIV Still Seen as the ‘Gay Man Disease’
I thought that the whole ‘only gay men have HIV’ hysteria had passed in the late 1980’s; that someone had educated the obviously sex-education-sheltered population at some point letting them know that sexually transmitted diseases and infections affect well, sexually active people… Male, female, of all sexual orientations. However, I recently learned that in the United States, Canada, UK, Germany, and Hong Kong, discrimination is still going strong–Even to the point of being eligible to advance the health of others.
If you are a gay male living in any of the above countries, you are prohibited from donating blood. Why? Because if you’re a gay male, you have HIV… And if you don’t have HIV, it will be a mere matter of time before you realize that indeed, you do.
I had no idea that this was going on. I have never donated blood in my life due to a severe, life-long phobia of syringes. You couldn’t pay me to go anywhere near a syringe for any reason short of laying on my death bed in need of a blood transfusion. And if it was suggested that I needed blood for any reason but would not die… Yeah, you’re going to have to convince me further because there is no way anyone is coming near me with a syringe. When I was a child, you had to promise me that we weren’t going to the doctor’s pretty much any time I had to leave the house during the day for a reason other than needing to go to school and if we did wind up at the doctor’s, I have been known to walk into the office, see the syringe, and immediately flee the building and refuse to go back in, clinging and grabbing onto anything as I was carried against my will back into the doctor’s office. This situation has not gotten any better in the years of adulthood.
While the United States, Canada, UK, Germany, and Hong Kong prohibit gay males from donating blood, even if you have not been sexually active in years, other countries are not doing much better on the discrimination poll. In South Africa and New Zealand, gay and bisexual men cannot give blood up until they have not been sexually active for five years, whether it was protected sex or not and in Argentina, Australia, Japan, and Hungary, the ban on gay blood resides until after one year of not being sexually active.
The reasoning behind this ban is said to be due to practicality and not intended to be discriminatory in a malicious manner.
“All donated blood is obviously tested carefully – but it can take a few months for the HIV virus to show up. So if you only recently contracted HIV and you then give blood, you can unwittingly inject the virus into the blood bank. Gay men are seven times more likely to contract HIV than straight men. So it has been judged that the risk is simply too great.”
Even given the statistics used here, there are so many statistics out there done by so many different organizations giving completely different information so what this could have been a product of is simply picking the statistic tha best fuels your reasoning for needlessly discriminating against a group of people for the sake of discrimination. Bottom line, people are dying because there are not enough people willing to donate blood and instead of taking the blood of the people who are giving it, health industries around the world are still fueled by bigoted politics, especially given the fact that all blood banks test the blood they receive. All of them. No matter what. Not one drop of blood comes from a blood bank to a person in need of that blood without it having been tested. Why? Because sometimes people honestly don’t know that they have contracted a sexually transmitted infection and HIV is not the only STI that can be passed through blood, there is also hepatitis B, syphilis, and herpes.
The only answer to this blatant discrimination of gay males is education. It is so important to be educated and to educate those around you in whatever way you can to raise awareness about important issues like safe sex, blood donation, and STIs. The more people who become educated about these issues the less people we will have still believing that HIV is strictly the gay male disease.