Argentina Lifts Gay Blood Ban and Says 'What's Good' to U.S.
Baby, now we’ve got gay blood. You know it used to be banned blood? Well… at least in Argentina. The massive South American country officially lifted its ban on blood donations for gay and bisexual men on Wednesday with a ritzy signing ceremony that put the United States to shame. With the historic move, Argentina has joined a host of other countries in saying “Bye, Felicia” to the outdated concept of “risk groups” that has dominated blood donation laws around the world. To sort out the bloody mess (sorry) of regulations that discriminate against gay and bisexual male blood donors, we took to the Internet and sorted out who’s in the gay blood donor club, who’s out, and why this regulation even exists.
The Dirty Origins of the Gay Blood Ban
In the grimy transition from the late 80s into the 90s, the AIDs epidemic had become a certified plague within LGBTQA and low-income communities within and outside of the United States. In this era before Ellen Degeneres had her big gay moment and marriage equality began to see legalization across the world, people were unkind, at best, to the LGBTQA community. The AIDS virus was tacked onto this community, because it was perceived that gay men were at a higher risk of contracting the virus due to their “deviant lifestyle.” The linking of the two caused the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to clutch their all-American pearls and, in 1983, exclaim that blood from MSMs (or men who have sex with men) was dirty and would lead to a spread of AIDS — ignoring the fact that they test all donated blood for viruses. The ban was supported by a now-defunct idea that certain “risk groups” were composed of people that have a higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. By grouping the entire population of men who have sex with men into a banned group, the FDA ignores the reality that gay and bisexual men have protected sex and straight people have unprotected sex. The risky business of unprotected sex isn’t exclusive to the gay and bisexual men of the world and to hold tight to the “risk group” model is both insulting and outdated. Despite the collapse in evidence, the FDA has only just started to loosen up their buttons, baby.
The Big Bad (Gay) Blood Ban Club
The United States government went pseudo-progressive last year with a major announcement that the gay blood ban was lifted but — like the Britney Spears comeback “performance” of Gimme More — fantasy and reality did not match up. To donate blood as a MSM, you need to abstain from gay sex for an entire year and, honey, that just is not going to happen. Until the U.S. lets R. Kelly into its heart and understands that there “ain’t nothing wrong with a little (homosexual) bump n grind,” we will remain in the bad boy club of countries who refused to allow gay or bisexual blood donations. This isn’t the cool bad boy club that 90s Johnny Depp would be found chainsmoking in, either. This is the kind of homophobic club you can catch arguing about the best way to ruin the country in last night’s Republican debate. Wedding bells may ring out for gay couples here, but we stand alongside Algeria, China, France, Iceland, Norway, Slovenia, and many more who refuse to take blood from gay and bisexual men. Just like prohibition and wearing white after Labor Day, bans aren’t cute. Luckily a cool kid club exists that allows blood donations from all range of people—gay or straight.
Blood Donations For All
During the official ban lifting ceremony yesterday in Argentina, Health Minister Daniel Gollán declared that the change is “scientifically and technically accurate” and could finally “move toward a national blood system that is safe, caring, and inclusive.” The groundbreaking move places Argentina in an exclusive club of ban-free countries, including Italy, Spain, South Africa, Chile and Uruguay. The move signifies a distancing of the outdated “risk group” assessment in favor of individual risk tests that don’t target who an individual sleeps with but rather the safety of their sex lives. If you wrap it before you tap it, you can take a walk of shame over to your local blood donation center and donate without feat of rejection.
As the world population swells past 7 billion, the need for blood donations continues to increase. By moving toward an individual risk assessment program and scrapping risk groups, you develop an increase in blood donations, which is rad not just for the sustainability of life but also for Wu Tang enthusiasts and vampires—no bad blood here.
Photos via Carrie (1976), Mario Suriani for AP Photo, and Pixabay.