Friday

Red.

Noun: Red color or pigment. The colour of blood.



This week it was announced that the ban on homosexual men giving blood has been lifted, opening the doors for thousands of men to give blood and raise the levels of available blood in the UK. But like all things good, it comes with a catch.

A Gay man must not have had oral or anal sex for at least 12 months.


This catch, it seems to prove, is still applying the stigma and views of homosexulity amongst todays culture, but to a lesser extent than before. In a culture where we have overcome racial descent, background and gender prejudice, we are still continuing to alienate one community of people even though the liquid that flows through them is exactly the same colour as those around them. Blood is blood. It can save lives.

I may sound narrow-minded and biased, but I do not feel that the 12 month no-sex rule is justifiable. Yes, there are medical reasons for this. Hepatitis B, they say, takes 3 months to show up within the blood of gay men (when really doctors say its a maximum of 7 days). Homosexual men are apparently more prone to HIV than heterosexual individuals, and these reasons prevent us from giving blood.



As a gay man, I consistently get checked every 3 months, yet I still have to obey this rule?

I agree that precautions need to be in place to ensure healthy blood is passed from one to another, but to alienate the homosexual community is the wrong way in doing so. It is acceptable for a heterosexual man to go out, have unprotected sex with as many people as he wants, and then give blood the following day, but a gay man must wait 12 months. This heterosexual man has just as much chance of becomming HIV+, or having Hepatitis as the next man, regardless of sexuality.

Although the new policy is a big improvement on the existing discriminatory rules, a 12-month ban is still excessive and unjustified.

It is disappointing.