Saturday, April 1, 2023

Second Annual ‘Blood is Blood’ Event to Raise Awareness of Dated Donation Policy

Once again, the Old Dominion girls of Leather and Jordan Moll of Blood is Blood are teaming up to host a blood drive on July 27 from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Great Neck Recreation Center in Virginia Beach to raise awareness of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy that requires a gay or bi-sexual man to abstain from sex with another man for at least 12 months to be eligible to donate blood.

Last year’s event was a success as donors were turned away at the door. This year, the organizers have asked the Red Cross to add staff as they hope to double the amount of blood donated. Blood is Blood is a cause spearheaded by Buffalo, NY resident Jordan Moll who famously took a vow of celibacy last year – not for religious reasons, but so he could donate blood and draw attention to the lasting stigma against blood donations from those who have sex with gay and bisexual men. 

Moll began Blood Is Blood four years ago after being rejected as a blood donor and has since worked to encourage the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change their 2015 policy that requires a gay or bi-sexual man to abstain from sex with another man for at least 12 months to be eligible to donate blood. Between 1983-2015, gay men were banned from donating blood.

When donating, donors are screened and are routinely asked if they have had sex with another man since 1977.  It would be very easy for donors to simply lie, but Moll wanted to prove a point, stating, “Blood donation is about saving people’s lives.  You shouldn’t have to lie to be a good citizen or donate blood.”

Moll’s efforts caught the attention of the Old Dominion girls of Leather (ODgoL) , a local social club founded in October 2017 who endeavors to give back to the community.  ODgoL is one again serving as a co-host of the event. Event organizes are asking the Hampton Roads community to come out and donate in place of friends and family who are ineligible.

Additionally, at the Blood is Blood event, the hosts will be raising awareness of the issue as July is “Blood Donation Month” a time when the nation’s blood supply is typically dangerously low.  According to the Red Cross, one pint of blood can save three lives. If gay/bisexual men were able to donate freely, it is possible that the nation’s blood supply would not be so low.  Despite the current FDA donor guidance, the local chapter of the American Red Cross is currently supportive of the blood drive.

The FDA’s blood donor guidance has its roots from the early days of the AIDS crisis, when the agency initiated a lifetime ban on allowing gay men to be blood donors in an attempt to keep HIV out of the nation’s blood supply.  Since then, mounting public pressure and technological advances, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its circa 1983 blood donation guidelines and in December 2015 published the “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products.

Moll stated that most donated blood sits in blood banks for three months and is screened for a wide variety of infectious diseases (including HIV) three times before it is used in a clinical setting.  Moll advocates for a three month deferment for all sexually active donors would be more reasonable and help the blood supply. If you are eligible to donate blood, want to learn more about this issue, meet Mr. Moll and the Old dominion Girls of Leather, learn more about Blood is Blood and attend Saturday’s blood drive from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

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