When I was seveteen, I was ecstatic to be able to give blood - and yet I forget and when I hit eighteen I was more excited to get a tattoo, which meant waiting four months before I could give blood. By then, I had another one, and by that four months being over - I had both touched up. Admittedly, I keep meaning to give blood - but something, whether it be a new piercing or tattoo, always gets in the way. It seems that I'm not the only one, as according to The Independent, there's been a 40% drop in those turning out to give blood in the last year, compared to a decade ago.
It would be ridiculous to call this anything other than a crisis - the levels of blood needed never really decrease, and yet the blood coming in seems to - so is there anything we can do about it? Actually, yes. I mean, to stop getting tattoos would be one - but, there is still a law in our country, that irregardless of whether the sex had was safe or not - men cannot give blood within a year of having anal or oral sex with another man - nor can a woman who has slept with a man who fits that description. These laws generally came into play across a number of nations in the 1980's, with many banning gay men giving blood at all - but that was a very different time. We now, surely, know better.
More people than ever seemingly openly identify with the prospect of falling outside of the realms of traditional heterosexual relationships - and this causes a problem with regards to blood donation. In a world where we need more blood donations than ever, we are isolating a huge chunk of the population. For a man in a relationship with a man, in order to give blood as well, he must essentially abstain from any sexual contact for a year before hand to be able to do so (this article written by a French Nurse's Aide talks about the frustration of being gay and wanting to give blood.)
(regulations copied from www.blood.co.uk)
HIV is, indeed, more commonly identified overall in gay men than any other sexual orientation group, but that isn't to say that they are the only carriers, nor that every single gay man is a carrier. We have made leaps and bounds within the realms and ideas of HIV, prevention, how it's spread - and as such, this rule seems outdated. Unsafe sex is unsafe sex, and the rules should be the same for all sexual orientations. If sex is safe, whether the participants are male, female or a non-binary gender should be irregardless - or at least in the sense of giving blood. Blood is, after all, blood - it runs the same in all of us, whether you lust after Cara Delevigne or Zac Efron.
Treating men who sleep with men the same as those who pose a much higher risk, those injecting drugs for instance, is an outdated idea - the regulations were made for the 80's, it's 30 or so years on, and it's time we realised that, far from being a problem, men who sleep with men donating blood might just be a glaringly obvious solution.
Have you ever given blood?