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Blood drive posters: 'No faggots allowed'

by Nick Langewis

"Radical queer provocateurs" in Portland, Maine, Infoshop News reports, have kicked off a parodical poster campaign to protest the treatment of gay and bisexual men who wish to donate blood.

Any man who has engaged in any sexual activity with another man since 1977 is barred from donating blood in the United States. The policy, adopted by the Food and Drug Administration in 1983, has been upheld despite repeated challenges from the community at large. Gay and bisexual men, regardless of current HIV status, are automatically classified as "high risk" individuals for the purpose of determining blood donation eligibility.

"Instead of using blood drives as an opportunity for free, anonymous, confidential, non-compulsory HIV testing for all people, since all blood entering hospitals, research labs, blood banks, etc must be tested anyways," the article charges, "the American Red Cross has chosen to exclude already marginalized populations under the guise of public health and safety."

The American Red Cross has in the past fought the FDA to ease the blanket restriction. A proposed change in September of 2000 would have modified the policy to allow a gay or bisexual man to donate blood after abstaining 12 months, in line with its policy towards commercial sex workers and intravenous drug users. While the Red Cross' opposition to that change, breaking with the American Association of Blood Banks and America's Blood Centers, prevented the change from taking place, it told the FDA's Blood Products Advisory Committee in March of 2006 that the blanket ban was "no longer medically and scientifically warranted."

"The continued requirement for a deferral standard seen as scientifically marginal and unfair or discriminatory by individuals with identified characteristics may motivate them to actively ignore the prohibition and provide blood collection facilities with less accurate information," the Red Cross warned the FDA in a joint statement. Regardless, the FDA reiterated the policy in May of 2007.

Click on the thumbnail for a full-size example of the poster:


Originally published on Thursday July 17, 2008.

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