As a gay man in the UK I can’t give blood.
So instead of having to lie about my sexuality in a bid to give blood and rather than just ignoring the whole issue I’m going to encourage the people I work with, who follow me on twitter and the people who read my blog to give blood.
I’ll also ask you to raise awareness of the issue and call for the ban to be lifted. Most people initially react by saying “Surely that’s a joke” or “You can’t be serious”. Sadly, the blood ban isn’t a joke, it’s a reality in the UK and it needs to change.
The ban on gay men is making the problem of donor shortage worse. The adverts encourage you to “do something amazing”. That’s everyone apart from you Ben and gay people like you. We don’t want you to do something amazing, we don’t like your blood. It’s just not good enough. It makes me feel like a second class citizen, unworthy of giving blood.
Gay and bisexual men are currently barred from donating blood because of the risk of HIV transmission, even if they practise safer sex and only have sex with a long term partner.
Despite widespread calls for change, the National Blood Service in the UK has yet to alter its position, citing rising HIV/AIDS rates amongst the gay community as an example of why men who have sex with men should be stopped from donating. They’ve not done any real significant research on the issue since the 1980’s- the landscape of HIV transmission has changed significantly.
This position is based on outdated images of gay men and fails to take into account the rising HIV rates amongst heterosexual people.
The National Blood Service policy perpetuates the myth of HIV and AIDS as ‘gay diseases’
The UK’s Blood Service Policy is at complete odds with the guidelines that are outlined by the United Nations, that serves to tackle this type of discrimination, and removes this antiquated perception about the gay community.
WHAT YOU CAN DO.
1) Learn more about the blood ban. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7283541.stm
2) Lobby your MP.
3) Encourage people to give blood.