Viewpoint: MSM policy education and sponsor drive

Samantha Rea
Original Article:

As students at the University of Michigan, we are lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are passionate about the recognition and equality of all social identities, and we are encouraged to become involved in activism around social justice issues. Yet one issue continues to be overlooked, even by employees and administration at the University — people who should care more about the discrimination that impacts many of their students on a regular basis.

Due to the existing inequality in the blood donation process, it’s necessary to spread awareness about the FDA’s policy that bans men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood, while simultaneously advocating for a policy change. This will require the support of the University campus, the Ann Arbor community and beyond.

According to a meeting that occurred with the Blood Products Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 2, blood donation is “not considered a civil right.” This was one of several infuriating comments expressed by those hesitating to change the policy. Though recent conversations have been shaped around changing the policy to a one-year deferral period, the hesitations toward moving forward with a policy change are still incredibly discriminatory. Even a one-year deferral period implies that simply being gay or bisexual is a risk.

A study at the University of California, Los Angeles determined that this recent change could allow over 317,000 more blood donations each year, but a removal of this policy could allow that number to double. Considering that each blood donation can save three lives, a removal of the policy could potentially save thousands of lives every year.

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