Letter to the Editor

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 03, 2010 7:20 AM

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Blood drive not intended to exclude

I was excited to read The Daily Iowan's coverage Wednesday of the blood drive held by the World Health Initiative, a University of Iowa student group which I chair, on World AIDS Day. I found a rather scathing guest opinion titled "Why I oppose the World AIDS Day blood drive."

The author of the column, David Oscar Harvey, raised a valid concern that U.S. blood drives do not allow gay men, or what the Food and Drug Administration refers to as "MSM" (men who have had sexual contact with other men), to donate blood. I, along with the American Blood Bank Association and the American Red Cross, think the FDA's policy is now outdated and unwarranted, especially when such countries as Argentina and Japan have modified theirs.

While I agree with Harvey that much of the population is unaware that the law even exists and that some may feel discriminated against because of it, I vehemently oppose the claim that the blood drive held Thursday was in any way an invocation of "exclusion."

Harvey himself points out in his guest opinion that "issues surrounding HIV/AIDS are receiving less and less collective attention," yet has apparently misunderstood the very purpose of the blood drive — to spotlight, even if for one day, a widespread global problem that still affects the United States despite tremendous advancements in treatment.

Holding the blood drive on World AIDS Day was done in an effort to provoke people to think, research, and learn more about blood-related diseases like HIV/AIDS and also help fulfill an incredible need in our very own hospital. Wednesday was, above all, a day of good intentions, good deeds, and giving — whether it was time, money, and/or blood.

To those who could not give blood, for whatever reason, we offered a collection jar for the Red Cross and a word of sincere thanks.

Sukriti Naya
UI junior

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