Students Protest FDA Restrictions on Blood Donations

Students gathered outside the Smith Campus
Center at Pomona College to protest and increase awareness about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with other men. The
event, called “We’re All Somebody’s Type,” took place on April 22 from
noon to 6:15 p.m. and offered free HIV testing in addition to letter-signing,
button-making, and educational literature.

“The goals of the protest were to raise awareness about the ban, and to
show the FDA that there are willing and supportive people out there who would
like to give blood but cannot because of the ban,” wrote Benjamin Kersten PO ’15, who
helped organize the protest, in an email to TSL. “As
it is, the ban draws an unfair connection between queerness and AIDS and
prevents many members of the LGBTQ+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other] community from participating in a larger
social body.”

Kersten
added that prohibiting males who have had sex with other males from
donating blood is a form of systematic discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

The FDA instituted the ban in conjunction with the Public Health Service in 1983. It is enforced upon any male who has had a sexual encounter with another male since 1977,
regardless of the person’s sexual orientation. It also prohibits donations from any women who have had sex with a man fitting that description. 

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