The new FDA rules on blood donations by gay men continue to perpetuate falsehoods. Euronews may call it “a major victory for gay civil rights” but it is NO such thing. Previously, any gay man who ever had sex with another man, no matter how “safe” the sex, was deemed too risky to donate blood. Now they are banned only if they had sex within the last year. These regulations were put into place during the height of the HIV/AIDS hysteria and represent precisely the kind of legislative overkill that happens when idiots pass rules or laws while panicking about something. Panics are the worst time to legislate, because people always get facts wrong.
Originally, the media and bureaucrats tried to label this disease “Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome” or GRIDS but it soon became apparent that it wasn’t “gay-related” at all. Certainly, they noticed very quickly that the disease had spread within the Haitian community in the United States and among IV drug users-predominantly straight groups. Then it became apparent, when you broaden the picture to include the rest of the world, that gays are a minority of those with HIV.
Regulations were written with scant actual knowledge when people were fearful and certain groups were doing their level best to stoke the flames of fear and misinformation.
This is a disease with certain means of transmission that don’t discriminate. Sex is a factor, gay or straight, it’s a factor, but consider how the Red Cross lists risks for HIV. They claim you are at risk of HIV if you “are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977.” Of course, they will now change that to say “any time in the last year.” So, that hand job from 1978 is no longer a threat–but, it never was.
It is a fact that MORE people worldwide have contracted HIV through heterosexual intercourse than any other mode of transmission, but it is not listed as a risk, while all gay sex, including absolutely safe practices, are deemed “unsafe.”
That isn’t science! That isn’t medicine! That’s panic politics at its worst.
Another major factor in this country has been the spread of HIV though sharing needles for IV drug use. Of course, one reason needles are shared is because they may be difficult to obtain, thanks to that other paragon of panic politics: The War on Drugs. Bureaucrats and politicians aren’t talking about how their own hyperbolic hysteria contributed to the spread of HIV.
The reason is simple: Policies passed in panic, no matter how counterproductive or destructive, are sacred and never repealed. To undo the panic legislation is to admit politicians use fear to secure office for themselves and cater to panics. A panic, no matter how absurd, is just another political opportunity, one that can be used to further ones career. Politicians don’t like to admit that if you scare the shit out of the public, you can pass anything you want.
So they pass bad legislation or regulations, which fester in the body politic for generations to come. Even after the fear has abated, even after the hysteria is dead and forgotten, or widely disputed, laws and regulations maliciously linger on for generations to come. The political elite never admits errors. Better thousands or millions suffer than the illusion of political competency is exposed as a fraud.
The “Satanic Panics” of the 80s created laws on sex offenders that are doing far more harm than good. That grossly exaggerated panic regarding child abductions now has parents being threatened with arrest for allowing children to play in a public park without an adult to guard them from imaginary monsters. The HIV panic created regulations on blood donations do more harm than good. At best, politicians will tinker around the edges, but the detrimental effect of fear politics are still with us–and no doubt will be for some time to come.
For more than four decades, science has shown these regulations to be unwarranted and counterproductive, but even now the most the political process is willing to do is make them only slightly less harmful. This should be a warning to those who, in a moment of crisis or fear, yell, “There ought to be a law.” If anything, legislation during crisis should be banned. It’s bound to be ill considered, badly drafted, and often more destructive than the problem it was meant to solve–a problem that is often grossly exaggerated to begin with.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post