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Show me the Science

by Jerry Bader

Tammy Baldwin and numerous other Senators and Members of Congress are pushing for a change in the blood donation rules in the U.S.  Currently, gay men are ban from donating. The rule goes back to the beginning of the HIV/AIDS scare in the 80's. Baldwin and the other M.O.C's say it's outdated. Other countries allow such blood to be donated and the ban perpetuates stereotypes against gays. They point out much has changed since the 80's. One thing has not.

Unprotected male gay sex if an extremely high risk factor in spreading the HIV virus. What Baldwin and the others are really complaining about here is that they've reached a conclusion on the science and expect the ongoing studies to validate that conclusion. Because it's taking so long they suspect the result won't be what they're looking for. After all, what should take so long? They believe they already know the answer, so this study shouldn't have taken long at all. That's dangerous.

Other countries are allowing this type of blood donation. And truthfully, a lifetime ban does seem to be something that was done in the early panic days of AIDS. But what this letter from senators and house members does is put HHS in a very difficult situation. If the studies say the ban should stay in place, we'll have another global warming-type debate. Because other countries allow these donations, this shouldn't be heavy lifting as far as science goes; how do their bloody supply contamination rates with HIV compare with ours? Sexually active gay men are what percent of their blood donation supply? And so on. I don't have an opinion because I haven't seen the science. But yes, this decision should be based on the science.