Current Red Cross procedure asks potential blood donors about their sexual history, and attempts to screen out homosexual men, who they say pose a higher disease risk.
The leader of Harvard’s BOND, a student group self-described as “geared toward those who may not be ‘straight,’” sent an email to the organization on Tuesday encouraging members to dontate blood, but to lie in an effort to circumvent the Red Cross screening policy.
“On the Red Cross’s form, you will be asked: ‘Are you a man who has had sexual contact with another man since 1973?’ This applies to many of you. You should lie,” Clifford S. Davidson ’02 wrote in an email to BOND.
Davidson said he expected that there would be objections to his viewpoint, but he said he thought people would understand that he meant only those who had been tested for STD’s and knew their health status, should lie.
Davidson notes that he wanted members to answer truthfully to the separate Red Cross question about donors’ HIV status.
“Since I am sure of my HIV status I thought that I should be able to give along with others in my position,” Davidson said.
BOND member Fred O. Smith ’04 said that he thought Davidson’s posting was “a little surprising.”
“I didn’t expect him to be quite that direct,” he said.
But Smith said he feels that Davidon’s position was correct.
“The [Red Cross] rule is based on homophobic stereotypes,” he said. “In this case I don’t think it is unreasonable to ignore it.”
Davison’s next posting to the email list included responses he had received from people on the list. Because the list is moderated by Davidson, he has responsiblility for screening all postings and passing them on as he sees fit.
One BOND member called Davidson’s suggestion to lie “morally represensible,” adding that “organizationally, you should NEVER suggest this.” Another member asked to be taken off the list, finding the suggestion “highly offensive.”
At the end of this posting, Davidson said he had also received messages from those who felt that lying was a good idea in this case as long as the donor knows his HIV status. Davidson then asked others on the list to send their opinions.
Davidson said that now, he is “not exactly sure” if his posting to the list was appropriate.
“I was just thinking that there was a need for blood,” Davidson said. “I usually don’t give blood when asked to because I don’t like to lie. Right now they have an excess, but at the time we didn’t know that.”