LGBTQ+ folk can now give blood

I found this article today and it really made my day.

Dr. Robbie Goldstein donated blood two weeks ago for the first time in his life.

On Thursday, Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld did the same.

Both have devoted their lives to medicine and public service. But until recently Goldstein, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Ehrenfeld, the president of the American Medical Association, were barred from perhaps the simplest way they could help.

They couldn’t donate their own blood.

Both men are gay, and gay men in America have been banned from blood donations since the mid-1980s.

Back then, it made some scientific sense to keep gay men from donating. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, had entered the blood supply and was passing to people who received transfusions. There was no way back then to rapidly screen donated blood to ensure the virus wasn’t present. The fear of HIV, then a certain death sentence, also affected public policy.

By 2005, the science had been transformed. Testing could rapidly identify HIV in blood with more than 99% certainty. The disease was readily preventable and treatable.

Yet the policy remained unchanged for nearly two decades.

“It’s hurtful when you should be able to do something so selfless and so important and you can’t because of a bad policy decision that is based in old evidence, stigma and discrimination,” Ehrenfeld said.

Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY

Personally, I’ve only given blood twice in my life. First, it was primarily because of the old policy itself, but over the last decade it’s been because I refused to try in protest. Better late than never, I guess.

You can read rest of this article, written by Karen Weintraub of USA TODAY, by clicking the button below.