With the nationwide blood shortage still affecting countless people the Red Cross and other blood collecting organizations are turning to a new potential donor group: gay men. As the AIDS outbreak ravaged the gay community in 1980, a ban was put in place to prevent men that had intercourse with other men from donating. At that time there was no definitive test to determine whether or not donate blood was infected with HIV/AIDS. As a result infected blood was given in transfusions that later caused the recipient to develop HIV/AIDS. The ban on gay men has stood to this day, despite all blood now being tested for the virus, and the fact that it is behavior, not sexuality, which is the primary determinant of whether a person is likely to be HIV positive or not.
Now more than ever, blood is needed to provide lifesaving treatment and the shortage puts everyone in danger. In light of this fact, the ban on gay men donating blood is being reevaluated. There are those that want tests and studies to be performed first to determine if it is safe to have gays contributing to the blood pool. Since all blood donors must go through a screening process and half their blood tested before it is used, there is no reason why gays should not be allowed to donate. Now that there is a reliable test for HIV/AIDS and many other blood borne diseases, the Red Cross and all similar organizations should open their doors to any donor willing to go through the screening process and offer their blood to save lives.