Should gay men be welcomed as blood donors?
It’s common for readers of the Jennings Daily News to see front-page stories publicizing the need for blood donations or announcements for area blood drives in the Community Calendar section.
Just last week, this newspaper published an article that featured a plea for donors from LifeShare Blood Center out of Lake Charles. According to the Center, it was down to only a two-day supply of all blood types. Considering the daily consumption of blood by cancer, surgery and emergency patients, it is easy to understand why blood donations are needed.
LifeShare has reported to the Jennings Daily News in previous articles that though millions of Americans are eligible to donate blood, only five percent of that number do.
Nationwide, the Red Cross, which collects massive amounts of blood in America, recently issued an emergency call for blood of all types and donations of platelets.
A recent article by NBC News Contributor Art Caplan, Ph. D., questioned whether it was time to welcome a group of people who are to this day turned away from donating blood – gay men.
Any person who has donated blood has likely seen on forms or been asked the question, “If you are male, have you had sex with another man even once since 1977?”
This question stems from the birth of the AIDS era, when doctors and scientists were baffled by the appearance of HIV/AIDS and originally believed the disease was isolated to gay men. Almost 40 years later, however, we know that AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease that can be contracted by any male or female, whether gay or straight, and that the disease can also be passed on through contaminated medical equipment or infected drug users who share needles.
Today, all blood donations, no matter the donor, are tested for HIV/AIDS and other diseases or issues before being passed on to medical facilities and patients.
Because society is more educated on these concerns, and blood donations are steadily declining in America, should healthy gay men who meet the health qualifications be welcomed as donors? Blood donations are needed every day across America, even right here in Jeff Davis Parish.
Are we killing more people by making them wait for blood instead of opening donor center doors to millions of men?
Share your thoughts on this issue by sending a Letter to the Editor to 238 North Market Street, Jennings, LA, 70546.
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