If you’re a gay man, you’ve probably experienced frustrating and embarrassing discrimination at say, The Red Cross, or any of the multitude of medical facilities that allow people to donate blood. For those of you who aren’t up to speed, men who have had sex with men after 1977 are prohibited from donating their blood for their entire lifetime due to fears of an AIDS epidemic from the 70’s that has gone unchecked in medical circles.
Many men, wishing to help save lives, lie at blood donation centers and claim they have not in fact been sexually active with other men. But tsk tsk! You can be sued for such behavior. An HIV negative man, Kyle Freeman, was sued by Canadian Blood Services for lying about being gay when he donated blood 18 times – even though he posed absolutely zero risk of contaminating the blood supply.
Lawsuits over the years in several countries to reverse this discriminatory practice. For the record, straight, black women have higher HIV infection rates in America than white, gay men. These statistics are constantly changing as the virus spreads, but the mere fact that an group poses a higher risk than gays is noteworthy in this case.
With all of that said, in 2009, Canadian Blood Services made a $500,000 grant available to any scientist interested in researching if gay men are able to safely donate blood. Not one scientist has taken the grant or begun working on the project. Free money to do some good in the world, and nobody is interested.
“Researchers of Canada: pay attention. Get on this,” said Lorna Tessier, director of public relations for Canadian Blood Services. “It’s a fully funded grant opportunity in a very interesting area of research.”
We agree. GET. ON. THIS. Gay men are fighting in America right now for the right to go to war and not lie about who they are. We also deserve the right to help save lives without hiding the truth.