GLAAD/GMHC "#CelibacyChallenge" 1:44 (USA)

Alan Cumming stars in this PSA for a bunch of different organizations including GLAAD to raise awareness about the FDA's blood donor referral policy for gay men. Dubbed the #CelibacyChallenge, this spot urges the FDA to implement a blood donation system that screen everyone for HIV transmission regardless of sexual orientation.

The FDA had banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood, completely, a policy that started during the early 80's when the AIDS epidemic reared its ugly head and the science of understanding what the virus was and testing was more involved and took longer. Back in December, of 2014 the FDA announced it is doing away with the ban, and enacting a year-long prohibition for gay men who have had sex.

This spot points out the fallacy of this year-long wait through a very tongue and cheek #CelibacyChallenge initiative and offers up all kinds of activities to divert attention from sex-- all of which are very sexually suggestive. It ends with a call to action-- sign a petition to ensure that everyone who is at risk be screened, and not just Gay and Bisexual men, who they content are considered risks because they are gay and bisexual.

And while it's true there isn't screening in place for all types of people, what this spot fails to mention is that the FDA has year-long restrictions for more types than just gay and bisexual men. According to the New York Times article:

The F.D.A. rules on blood donation generally include very wide margins of error. For example, it bars anyone who has traveled in areas where malaria is common from giving blood for a year, even though malaria symptoms are almost unmistakable — chills and fever — and virtually always appear within 40 days. The agency also has a 12-month waiting period for heterosexuals who, among other activities, have sex with prostitutes or with people who inject drugs.

On the Red Cross wbesite there is a huge list of people who, while not banned outright, are considered ineligible to donate blood, including people with sickle cell, TB, hepatitis, and more, in addition to month or year-long prohibitions for diseases including heart disease, other types of hepatitis and cancer. It's quite an extensive list, in fact. I have no idea if they screen for this, though.

The New York Times article also notes that other European countries, have reversed the lifetime ban on blood donations, in favor of a year long restriction--including the UK where Allan Cumming is from. Perhaps if this campaign is a success, they will branch out their messaging to other countries as well.

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AnonymousCoward's picture
Dabitch's picture

"....true there isn't screening in place for all types of people"
Is it really now? As a blood donor, I'll just note that there was a ten year wait for me before I was cleared - due to the fact that I like red meat and ate some while I lived in London in 1994 - and there's a six month wait if I change sex partner. I'm not sure how often my blood was tested when I was an active donor, it's possible they tested it once a year regardless of what I said on the forms I filled out each time. My mom could never donate at all because she lived in west africa in the late 60s and managed to get malaria twice.

Aside from that, the non-sex activities are hilarious.