In 1983 the FDA put a ban on gay men from donating blood if they have had sex with another man since 1977 (Thrasher). Certain activists believe this ban is harsh and should be repealed. While it would be great if everyone in the country could donate blood, gay men are at higher risk for certain diseases such as HIV/AIDS. This increased risk makes it unwise to eliminate this ban. As stated by Mark Skinner in his article Science Should Dictate Policy, “blood donor deferrals are not judgments about individuals but are scientifically based”. Policy should not be based on the personal opinions of possible donors, but on scientific fact.
AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and is caused by human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. HIV is transmitted through blood and bodily secretions, specifically sexual secretions (Handsfield 157). HIV has an incubation period of 10-20 days after one is exposed to the virus (Handsfield 161), and can result in a variety of symptoms including an unexplained fever, a rash, or unexplained weight loss (Handsfield 163). If a patient has reached a diagnosis of AIDS, it means that person has reached a stage 3 HIV infection. This means the patient’s body has less than 200 lymphocyte cells per mm3 (Handsfield 162). Lymphocytes are a vital part of the immune system (Encyclopedia Britannica) and without them one is susceptible to many respiratory diseases, bacterial infections, and even certain types of cancer. These are things that a healthy person can fight off, but they end up being the probable cause of death in a patient with AIDS (Handsfield 162). AIDS and HIV are more commonly found among men that have sex with other men. This group is often referred to as MSM for short (Handsfield 157). The r...
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