On March 4, 18 senators - including New York's Kirsten Gillibrand - backed a resolution to lift the Food and Drug Administration's ban on blood donors who have had gay sex since 1977, a ban that was enacted in 1983 during the early stages of the HIV-AIDS crisis.
We agree with those who say that the blood donation process must be handled with extreme care and precaution through the screening of blood and its donors for any potential mismatch or latent disease. The appalling stories of blood transfusions gone wrong are tragic and are prone to make people wary of the blood collection process, however, these situations are increasingly rare and in no way justify the outdated practice of banning men who have had gay sex. There is literally no scientific reason for the policy to exist.
Twenty years ago, our medical technologies were less precise and the public understanding of HIV was extremely limited. It is well-known today that HIV is no longer concentrated in the gay community and safe sexual practices are much more the norm than they were when the ban was enacted.
While it is true that individuals may not realize they are HIV positive without being tested, the notion that those who do have gay sex are more likely to contract the disease than those who have heterosexual sex is outdated and certainly makes for an inappropriate and unjust policy.
By retaining a rule that does nothing to improve the safety of our blood banks, the FDA is condoning and perpetuating the completely unacceptable stereotype that those who choose to have gay sex are physically diseased or made impure. We should not turn away willing donors who can give blood that is needed in hospitals all over the country.
This debate has nothing to do with one's moral or religious judgment on being gay - it's science. It is disturbing that a policy based on fears that haven't been relevant for over a decade has stayed on the books for so long.
We applaud Gillibrand and the other 17 senators for bringing this dusty policy back onto the table.
The staff editorial represents the majority opinion of The Lamron editorial board, and is not reflective of the views of the SUNY Geneseo student body.