Pennsylvania

The Synagogue Shooting Survivors Need Blood, but Government Prevents Gay Men From Donating

Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz helped his local LGBT community before he died. Several in the Pittsburgh LGBT community cannot do the same for his.

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|||Ina Fassbender/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom
Ina Fassbender/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom

Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, lost his life in a mass shooting during Saturday services at a Pittsburgh synagogue. He was a hero. According to his nephew, Rabinowitz was shot and killed while searching for victims in need of a doctor. Those who had the pleasure of having Rabinowitz as a primary care physician remembered the dedication he had to his patients, and his heroism in caring for them. Michael Kerr was among Rabinowitz's former patients and he shared his experiences as an HIV patient of the doctor's in the mid-80s.

According to Kerr, Rabinowitz was known as the person to see because he was "known in the community for keeping us alive the longest." Rabinowitz also held his patients' hands without gloves and hugged them after each visit, a move that defied stigma about HIV in an era of ignorance and discrimination.

Though Rabinowitz provided members of his local LGBT community with lifesaving services, outdated government regulations prevent several gay men in the Pittsburgh LGBT community from doing the same for Rabinowitz's community.

Following the shooting, city officials asked for blood donations to help treat the wounded. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban, though recently relaxed, heavily restricts gay men from donating blood depending on the last time they engaged in sexual activity.

For decades, the FDA prevented all gay men from donating blood due to a lack of knowledge about HIV and its treatment. But thanks to innovations in science, screening for the virus has significantly improved. The ban has since been criticized, especially in cases where gay men were prohibited from donating blood despite being able to prove that they tested negative for HIV. In 2010, the FDA even admitted that such donor deferral policies were "suboptimal in permitting some potentially high risk donations while preventing some potentially low risk donations."

In 2015, the FDA eased the restrictions ever so slightly to allow men who had not engaged in sexual activity in over a year to donate. As Reason's Scott Shackford observed, however, the new rule still goes overboard. Tests can now detect HIV in as little as two weeks to three months, making the year-long period an unnecessary delay. The new policy was particularly condemned after the 2016 Pulse mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, when it prevented several partners and friends of the victims from donating blood to help save their loved ones. The tragic event also highlighted more issues with the policy. For one thing, all blood donations are tested for HIV. For another, it also ignores gay men who engage in safe, monogamous sex while allowing heterosexuals who engage in risky sexual behaviors to donate.

While Americans remain divided on how to prevent tragedies like the one that took Rabinowitz's life, it should be a no-brainer that those who wish to help the victims in these events should not be prevented from doing so because of a misguided government rule.

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  1. What’s fucked up is how the invisible hand has led to everyone denying me from donating blood. People somehow just look at me and know. And I’m liable to get offended soon if this keeps up another 30 years.

    1. Maybe it’s your tendency to ask for the phone numbers of people who will receive your blood so you can call up and whisper “I’m inside you now.”

  2. Weird, you didn’t include the incidence of HIV in the gay community vs the population at large. I’m pretty sure I already know why, unless those stats have changed significantly in the last few years.

    1. Yeah, it’s almost like we now know that it’s not “being gay” that’s the risk-factor, but specific behaviors that not all gay people do or something.

      But hey, whatever floats your boat.

      1. Weird, you didn’t cite the stats either.

        But hey, not all gay men have butt-sex? I suppose that’s probably true, many of them are probably unable to find partners.

        I happen to agree that the law isn’t great, but pretending there isn’t a reason for it is interesting given that the very ‘risk-factors’ that we’re talking about abound in spades in the specifically gay male category.

        1. First up, last time I cited data, I spent a stupidly long time explaining to y’all how to click on a tab to see more specific data. The response I got was “I don’t see it, you’re a lying liar!” So I’ll have to beg forgiveness, but I’ve been cured of that impulse.

          Second, it’s irrelevant, because as I said, we can screen for behaviors that are actually risky rather then making sweeping assumptions about groups

          Third, we know the “reason”. When the FDA was soliciting input a few years back, we had medical group after medical group saying “we have no problem accepting blood from gay men.” But the FDA chose instead of listening to the people actually dealing with this stuff, to listen to conservative lobbyists who didn’t actually care about the blood supply.

          1. “First up, last time I cited data, I spent a stupidly long time explaining to y’all how to click on a tab to see more specific data. The response I got was “I don’t see it, you’re a lying liar!” So I’ll have to beg forgiveness, but I’ve been cured of that impulse.”

            Any excuse will do.

            “Second, it’s irrelevant, because as I said, we can screen for behaviors that are actually risky rather then making sweeping assumptions about groups”

            Except those sweeping assumptions are statistically valid, so there’s no reason not to use them for screening.

            “Third, we know the “reason”. When the FDA was soliciting input a few years back, we had medical group after medical group saying “we have no problem accepting blood from gay men.” But the FDA chose instead of listening to the people actually dealing with this stuff, to listen to conservative lobbyists who didn’t actually care about the blood supply.”

            This is where you’re going to pretend to be over citing things for not citing this I suspect.

          2. we can screen for behaviors that are actually risky rather then making sweeping assumptions about groups

            P1: Have you engaged in homosexual sex?
            P2: Yes
            P1: Sorry, we don’t take blood from people who engage in this risky behavior. For the good of our patients.

            EscherEnigma/Reason/Gayz: That’s irrelevant, because we can screen for behaviors that are actually risky rather then making sweeping assumptions about groups, stop hating gay people you bigots.

            I wonder if Escher can spot the error in his own comment.

            1. EscherEnigma/Reason/Gayz: That’s irrelevant, because we can screen for behaviors that are actually risky rather then making sweeping assumptions about groups, stop hating gay people you bigots.

              This is ridiculous. They’re investigating as minimally as possible and it’s already too far for you. It’s dead simple to answer ‘No’ to the question above untruthfully and still detect HIV/STDs. They ask the question because it costs nothing and it saves them on testing to find the truth.

              The question isn’t homophobic as much as people are so scared to death of homophobia they’re willing to take unnecessary risks and lie to avoid it.

              1. Sorry, this was intended @EscherEnigma. Threading fail.

            2. More to the point “Do you engage in unprotected sex?”

              I know one woman who got HIV from her husband. He unknowingly got it from his wife at the time. They found out when my friend got pregnant and got a routine screening.

          3. Why would they oppose gay men and not lesbians, if it is hatred of gays causing the policy?

            1. Why would they oppose gay men and not lesbians, if it is hatred of gays causing the policy?

              Because we all know the world is run by the cis-het-white patriarchy, and they aren’t offended by two women making out. –some progressive, probably

          4. Last I attempted giving blood, the questionnaire doesn’t actually ask if your gay. It asks if you have engaged in anal sex or something more polite.

            But what do I know. I fail the hemoglobin before ever getting to questionnaire these days.

            A bunch of ferrumphobic-phobics.

            1. Also, the prohibition on sodomy/anal is just as relevant to straight people doing it as gay men. The physiognomy of the large colon is the same regardless of biological sex.

      2. In your rush to get the vapors, you utterly and completely missed the point.

        1. That a “libertarian” thinks we should treat people as a uniform group rather then individuals? Nah, that was picked up right quick.

          1. You screen for likelihoods you fucking ignoramus. Jesus Christ, your reflexive paranoia at using generalities is moronic. You’re literally saying “ignore data because feels”

        2. “In your rush to get the vapors, you utterly and completely missed the point.”

          Wasn’t that the point of this article?
          To use the Pittsburgh shooting to give people the vapors about gays being persecuted?

          1. It seems to have worked on that guy at least.

      3. Being gay doesnt make you sick, true.

        Sex between gay men has a rather high incident of STD. All STD. If costs can be kept downn by saying no to some donations from an abnormally high risk group, so be it.

        Lesbiansn arent barred as their behavior doesnt contain the same level of risk. So it aint homophobia.

        1. Save costs how. You’re suggesting for straight people they should just skip the HIV screen and hope for the best because they’re lower risk?

          They also ban IV drug users, should that be unacceptable because some IV drug users don’t share needles?

          1. Non-intravenous drug user and non-bisexual straight people do not have AIDS. The transmission rate is so low as to be virtually zero.

    2. ^^^ Literally was going to post this

  3. They also prevent people who lived in England, because #MadCow, even if they are vegetarians.

  4. For pete’s sake, I thought this had ended once accurate HIV tests were developed.

    1. HIV is not the only concern re STD.

      1. Which is the one that’s a major concern?

        1. Hepatitis B is a big issue. Roughly 1 in 5 new cases each year are in gay men. If you adjust for population sizes compared to straights, the rate in gay men dwarfs that of the rest of the population.

          Syphilis is another one; the majority of new cases each year are in gay men.

      2. It sure isn’t, but they still let sexually active straight people donate.

        1. How dare they weigh risk factors!!

          1. They should ban everyone who’s had sex in the last 12 mos. equally.

            Isn’t this the same group of retards who’s always asking “I thought libertarians were against collectivism?”

            1. It is pretty fascinating to watch their stated principles erode depending on the special group being discussed.

        2. The infection rate for virtually all STD are significantly higher for gay males than any other category.

      3. And a concern to the point that it is a law, not just a conventional decision. A law.

        1. This is obviously the relevant part of the story for libertarians. Telling blood banks where to focus their screening resources isn’t anyone’s job but the blood bank.

          1. Telling blood banks where to focus their screening resources isn’t anyone’s job but the blood bank.

            ^ This.

          2. http://uscode.house.gov/view.x…..ion=prelim

            the red cross received a government charter in 1900 to save u.s. soldiers in war.

            and she’s not arguing that the government doesn’t have a place in regulation, just that this regulation is bad because feelz.

            1. You post seems to be in the wrong place as it isn’t a response to mine.

    2. The best tests won’t give proper results for it until 4 months after exposure. That’s a long time for “WE NEED BLOOD NOW”

      Let’s be honest, almost all of HIV positive people are gay or got it from a guy who has been engaging in homosexual behavior. It’s almost impossible for a man to get HIV without getting it from A) needles (9%) or B) receiving anal sex from an HIV positive man.

      There’s 1,200,000 people with HIV in the country. There’s only ~6,000,000 gay people, so 3,000,000 gay men. That’s a very high rate of instance.

      1. I used to think that also.But I’ve known a few straight people who became infected.

        1. Straight people in long term relationships getting infected. The numbers do not support that.

          High risk sexual activity and exposure to C-D in Europe are the big risk groups and are denied donating.

    3. For pete’s sake, I thought this had ended once accurate HIV tests were developed.

      You get frustrated driving to work knowing that jet propulsion exists don’t you?

  5. They should be allowed to donate, and the recipient should be fully informed about where the blood came from and allowed to pass on getting a transfusion if they choose. Of course, the recipient will then go to the end of the line to wait.

    1. Some people who need blood are unconsciuos and cannot make those informed decisions.

      We already know what a tainted blood supply can lead to. It happened in the late 1980s through the 90s.

      Its not worth the risk.

  6. this is so fucked up. why would reason argue anyone has the right to give blood, but especially the most dangerous group that exists along with intravenous drug users? are there any non-leftlibertarians identity politic preening writers that still write for this website?This place has been captured by social justice warrior morons. this prevalence in gay males is actually getting more pronounced, not less.

    “HIV Rate Among Gay & Bi Men 25 to 34 Rose 45% Between 2008 And 2015. During that time, the rate dropped 15 percent nationally ”

    https://www.poz.com/article/ hiv-rate-among-gay-bi-men-25-34-rose-45-2008-2015

    gay males make up 75% of new hiv infections every year.

    https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/ overview/ataglance.html

    gays account for 83% of all hiv infections in males.

    https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/ overview/data-and-trends/statistics

    I don’t know how could anyone be so scientifically ignorant and blinkered by pc thought and still call yourself a libertarian.

    1. WHYCOME DEGENERATE HIV GAYZ CANT SPREAD THE GIFT TO HETEROSEXUAL JEWS SHOT IN SYNAGOGUE? GOVERNMENT BAD. IT OPPRESSING POOR GAYZ WHO WANT TO SPREAD GIFT.

      –Reason.

      Seriously. This level of retard.

    2. Because it’s reckless to not screen all blood anyway and if you’re screening it, why exclude anyone? Also you’re confusing ‘right’ and ‘should’. There’s lots of things most reasonable people would agree you shouldn’t do, but have the right to.
      If you’re going to cite a statistic that would back up your position, it would have to be the the false negative rate of the HIV screen was high enough that excluding people made sense. I’ve not seen such evidence.

  7. It is difficult to get riled up about this. It is not gay hatred that are the source of these rules, and it is certainly not acceptable to put the general population of blood recipients at risk just to placate homosexuals.

  8. The Synagogue Shooting Survivors Need Blood, but Government Prevents Gay Men From Donating

    Do you want to spread AIDS? ///jk

    1. You “jk”, but you should realize that when the FDA was considering the current rule, many conservatives legitimately made that “argument”.

      1. And you seem to be incapable of overcoming that horrible trauma.

      2. You act like there isn’t a ridiculous rate of HIV in the gay population, as if they don’t make up some 80% of HIV folks… and as if this degeneracy doesn’t exist…

      3. The blood supply was already tainted by high risk people.

        The USA should not make the same mistake.

        If gay folks want to be treated like everyone else then get used to disappointments in life.

  9. OT: Why does The Washington Post get so much hate from libertarians? They have Dave Weigel and Radley Balko. That’s two more libertarians than most “mainstream” publications have.

    1. “They have Dave Weigel and Radley Balko.”

      That’s probably your answer, they make people like you think those 2 are libertarians.

      1. A right-wing authoritarian questioning Radley Balko on libertarianism?

        One more reason to dislike and discount faux libertarians.

        1. “A right-wing authoritarian questioning Radley Balko on libertarianism?”

          Yeah when that eventually happens that guy will hear about it from me.

    2. The WaPo is a mixed bag – Bezos has described himself as at least “libertarian-leaning,” and publishes some people who self-identify as “libertarian.” In contrast to the NYT, there is a broader range of views allowed at WaPo and less of a monolithic editorial perspective. But the stuff that gets foregrounded from WaPo, especially by Google News, tends to be even more unhinged left-wing partisanship than typically comes out of the NYT, and when you add the personal feud between Trump and Bezos, WaPo can be pretty bad about spreading misinformation and hysteria even while some not-bad stuff is buried on the back pages.

    3. Because a lot of the “libertarians” here are just slightly more socially liberal Republicans.

  10. According to his nephew, Rabinowitz was shot and killed while searching for victims in need of a doctor.

    Every death at Tree of Life was heartbreaking. This one needs a new word.

    1. “Kirklandesque”?

      1. Do disaffected, marginalized, rejected-by-society malcontents recognize their position (more accurate, lack of it) in decent, mainstream society? Or, instead, do they believe they are a legitimate element among public debates? Do they understand why most citizens choose not to associate with Gab, Stormfront, white nationalists and other bigots, Richard Spencer, the Proud Boys, etc.?

        1. So you agree it fits.

          1. Like a custom latex bondage suit.

  11. The new policy was particularly condemned after the 2016 Pulse mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, when it prevented several partners and friends of the victims from donating blood to help save their loved ones.

    This is so bad, it makes me question your bona fides as a fiscal conservative/libertarian.

    “We need access to the banks so that we can run on one in an emergency!”

    Uh… no. Hayekly-speaking, banks aren’t there for emergency bailouts.

    1. What is ridiculous about that statement is that so many people were donating blood in the community, half way through the day after, radio stations were asking for a by one willing to help to bring bottles of water to those waiting in lines to donate blood – they didn’t need gay people donating blood to help the gay people. The entire community stepped up to take care of them.

      1. That reality cannot be used to further gay agendas, and this shooting is all about the gay community after all.

  12. Let’s don’t be hasty. As Ron White or someone recently opined, wasn’t one of the benefits of being gay the fact that you couldn’t get married? Oh well, guess I’m going to slut around my whole life!

    Similarly, blood donation day at work is something one can simply ignore. They don’t want me, fuck ’em! I got work to do.

    1. They should make it so married people are the ONLY ones who can donate, because that’s an easy marker to know your sexual activity, or lack thereof.

      1. I’ve known married people to get HIV from their partner. Like a virus is going to know whether you stood in front of some judge.

    2. The day that Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, I stopped by a gay friend’s office to ‘congratulate’ him on it passing.

      He had very much that reaction. He wasn’t an activist about it at all, and lamented that this now put a lot of unwanted pressure on him and friends of his.

      1. It was ethically necessary to fix the law, but you can still be against marriage on principle, and straight people are perfectly welcome to join the club.

        1. It was ethically necessary to fix the law, but you can still be against marriage on principle, and straight people are perfectly welcome to join the club.

          I’m pretty sure straight men had the market cornered on hating marriage well before you came along.

          1. The amount of unpleasant stuff straight men have to participate in in order to get their dicks wet continues to astound me.

  13. What does the questionnaire look like? Do they just come out and ask you which way you swing or whether it’s a sometimes kind of thing, or an all the time thing? Or do they just ban people who come in to donate blood dressed as The Village People? What if you’re in denial or on the down low?

    1. My gay male friend donates all the time and just lies about it.

      1. Fool! They can screen for gay antibodies! They are more fabulous than the other antibodies!

      2. So your friend is a sociopath?

        Of course, you do claim him as a friend.

        1. As it happens, yes, I believe he is. I once asked him to define “empathy,” and he acted like he didn’t even understand the question. Was strange.

        2. Sociopaths tend to understand what the other sociopath is going through.

  14. Don’t you know that gay blood can give you the gay?

    1. That’s vampires. The gays reproduce by recruiting children with altar wine.

      1. But you just know that it’s the right kind of wine to pair with a particular victim.

  15. “AIDS is a horrible plague devastating the male gay community and you are anti-gay bigot for not taking it seriously!”

    “You are an anti-gay bigot for treating gay men as if they could have a horrible plague!”

    The purpose of donating blood is to treat sick and injured people, it is not to make the donors feel good about themselves.

  16. I would like to decry the rejection of anemics. I want my movie ticket, dammit.

  17. The reality is that gay men tend to have more STDs and AIDS than any other group. Ignoring this to make gay men feel better doesn’t help.

  18. One pragmatic angle… the tone of the article is “people need blood, how dare you deny it!”

    How many people have engaged in male homosexual sex in the last year, as a percentage of the population? 1.75%?

    (3.5% homosexuality rate / 2 for only male)

    I dunno… there’s probably more in the “swing both ways” category. At any rate, is this really a population size that would have a meaningful affect on the supply of blood donations?

    Also, did we forget to be outraged about similar treatment for people who have recently traveled to certain tropical countries?

  19. No in depth details of why gay men are excluded along with other high risk groups?

    Do you know that military members that were stationed in Europe for more than 3 months are excluded because of mad cow disease risk?

    If you fucking propagandists would discuss why its important for kids in high school and young adults to give blood, there might be more donors. Instead you bash protecting our blood supply from high risk gay groups because….Lefty agenda.

    1. Reason will also ignore the blood recipients that received tainted blood and why the policies were changed.

      Even if all blood is tested, mistakes happen. Nobody wants the mistake to be HIV infected blood because the test was done incorrectly. It better to get low risk people to give blood.

  20. In the United States, more than 15% OF ALL GAY MALES are HIV positive. That number varies by state, and in the southern states, 25% of all gay men are HIV positive. It’s an absolute epidemic… and it’s GETTING WORSE: HIV rates among gay men ROSE 45% between 2008 and 2015. Plus 70% of all new HIV infections are among so-called “men who sleep with men” (MSM).

    This is a wildly irresponsible article, and I usually expect better from Reason. The magazine is going downhill, fast, lately.

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