Our View

Alpha Phi Omega will be hosting its second Simpson College Blood Drive April 16 to 17 in Cowles Fieldhouse, which will provide students with an excellent opportunity to help out those in need, but it will also put students in the middle of a growing debate regarding homosexuality.

Recently, Iowa State’s sororities and fraternities did not participate in the blood drive at their campus due to a rule disallowing homosexuals from giving blood. At Simpson, a certain number of students who wanted to participate in the previous blood drive were asked not to because of their sexual preference, as well.

According to The American Red Cross, a man isn’t allowed to give blood if he “has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977.” Why that has evolved to covering all homosexuals is an undoubtedly a questionable decision. Blood drives should really reconsider whether these rules against homosexuals are truly justified.

The reason The Red Cross denies male homosexuals from giving blood is because homosexuality supposedly puts them at high risk for HIV and AIDS. Though the beginning of HIV and AIDS in America did occur predominately among homosexual groups, the virus has evolved to become a threat for both homosexuals and heterosexuals.

The Des Moines Register recently covered the events at Iowa State, and on the story’s board are various comments from readers who provide large numbers of statistical evidence as to how homosexuals truly are a high risk for having contaminated blood. But, like most statistics, the public, and more importantly The Red Cross, need to be aware that statistics are simply numbers – and they can, and often are, misconstrued.

For example, one reader presents us with an example of the “overwhelming epidemiological statistics” that say, “of the estimated 1 million Americans with HIV, 60 percent are gay men, and another 25 percent are IV-drug users.”

First off, we should always question statistics, especially when those numbers concern groups that are often persecuted in society. Surveys for rape victims, for example, are never easy to interpret because of the low number of women who actually report the incidents. The question here is how many homosexual men actually admit it, and more importantly, how many of them would admit it for a survey?

There’s no possible way such an examination actually embodies the majority of homosexuals in the country. To say then that 25 percent of gay men are IV-drug users is asinine, and can be seen as a medical cover-up (despite its good intentions) for bigotry. As for the 60 percent, we’d like to know where those stats came from and if it actually covered the proper demographics.

Finally, and most interestingly, the biggest question is why The Red Cross, an organization that typically is without even a full week’s supply of blood and is constantly fighting blood shortages, would want to eliminate an entire group of people from giving blood, even though its doctors run HIV tests on all the blood that’s collected anyway. With the evolution of the virus and the better understanding of homosexuality we now have, it seems The Red Cross’ rules against homosexuals, though well intentioned, are outdated and could easily be seen as bigotry. Just because a man is homosexual doesn’t mean he is a needle-drug user or is infected with HIV. Though easier to categorize homosexuals with a label, the organization is truly only hurting itself and the number of people it provides with life-saving blood.

Blood drives must evolve with the times, just as AIDS has.