O Neg Donors Turned Away By Red Cross
During rush hour last Thursday night, an explosion erupted, and fire tore through a 10-acre section of the Glenview neighborhood of San Bruno. My boyfriend, grandmother and I watched, horrified, as firefighters struggled to contain the blast and the flames. We sat through the debate on whether it was a crashed airplane or not, and the realization that it was a natural gas line that had broken, subsequently affecting the power and water to the area. It was terrifying and sad.
So, in the aftermath, my boyfriend and I decided we were going to respond for the call for blood, because we’re both type O and they were, as always, worried about a shortage. We made our appointment with the Red Cross, and went to bed early so we’d be fresh and ready to donate. After a healthy breakfast and sugary drinks, we headed to the blood drive with a spring in our steps.
Except our blood is no good. Yep, that’s right- despite being healthy 20-somethings, we’ve got bad blood.
Why? Well, multiple reasons, actually. Let me count the ways:
-I visited Marrakesh for a weekend- visiting Africa is a no-no.
-I’ve had sex (protected sex, mind) with men who have sexual contact with men.
-I’m a sex worker, which makes the boy the lover of a sex worker.
-He had a body piercing in the past year.
-He’s from the UK, and was living there between 1980 and 1996 (some places will refuse you for visiting for 3-6 months since the 80’s, too, so my living there can count against me)
Now, mind, the Red Cross is desperate for blood donations. But with even a partial list like this, how on earth do they expect to get the blood they need?
It’s frustrating as a conscientious queer woman who tends to have lovers who are also queer. I’m shocked and appalled that 40 years later, we’re still mainly pointing the finger at gay men for spreading blood-bourne disease—despite the fact that the percentage of new heterosexual HIV diagnoses is higher than for injection drug use, and that a heterosexual man or woman actively having sex with someone with HIV is only banned for a year from giving blood—unlike gay men, who regardless of their safer sex practices, are banned for life.
The United Kingdom, meanwhile, obviously still takes blood from people who have lived there between 1980 and 1996. Otherwise, who would they get blood from? Still, they similarly won’t take blood from men who have had sexual contact with men (and they reassure you that it has to do with sexual behaviour, not orientation—so if you’re gay but have never engaged in oral or anal sex, you can still give blood). And, of course, no blood donations for prostitutes... despite the fact that a recent study has shown that STI risk is higher among swingers than prostitutes: