- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2000

There is a crisis. In modern, tolerant, let-it-all-hang-out America, there is a place where you must be straight, even moral, or they simply do not want you.

Some narrow-minded religious sect, no doubt? But these allow for conversions. Even when it is in desperate need, this organization turns from you if you ever were immoral. Of course, no institution could explicitly shun people on moral grounds, for some busybody court would surely overturn it. No, the language of science must cover the sin of morality. What is this retrograde institution that even proscribes sex if not exercised in a monogamist, heterosexual relationship?

It is the American Red Cross. One could never tell from its governing board, which is properly nonpartisan, nondenominational and multicultural. A majority seem to be Democrats or moderate Republicans, people who shy from religious fundamentalism as a vampire from the cross. So what is going on?

In fact, a Red Cross application does ask if one has had intercourse with more than one partner, if one has had sex with another male, if one has ever had sexually transmitted diseases. It tries to sniff out drug use and abuse of alcohol. The questions even get somewhat racial, requiring one's race, asking if one's family is Hispanic, or whether one is from certain African countries or not. How is this possible in the land of political correctness?

Obviously, something is very wicked or very profound. With the American Red Cross, it is not surprisingly something very serious, life threatening in fact. The application referred to is one that must be completed if one is allowed to give blood. Yes, allowed, for donating blood is very different from the old days. Gone is the time anyone was dragged off the street to give the needed pint. Tramps cannot sell blood anymore. There are two reasons why, AIDS and lawsuits.

Early in the AIDS epidemic, the blood supply became tainted and the innocent who were infected sued. Unlike a government agency that cannot be sued, the Red Cross had no alternative but to clean up its act (literally) or go out of business. Incidently, this is one of the best reasons to choose private control of health and welfare rather than government. One cannot sue the government but a lawsuit focuses the private mind sharply to reform poor practices. And reform they did.

Testing the blood would seem the most obvious solution to assure that AIDS and other disease threats are not present. Of course, this is the center of today's practice. Yet, some disease escapes detection it may be too early in the process for measurement, it may be a unique strain for which there are not tests, or it may be totally new. The number of tests are finite and the threats are very many. To be as safe as possible and if it was you or one of yours, you would demand it there must be additional measures. The best way is to minimize risk factors factors that are associated with disease and AIDS in particular. This is why male homosexuality, promiscuity and drug use are relevant questions. They are highly correlated with AIDS infection and to other diseases that may contaminate the blood supply.

HIV infection is the leading cause of death among males 25 to 44 years of age, principally due to male-to-male sexual contact. HIV was the fourth leading cause of death among women of this age group and was the leading cause among black women. Indeed, the majority of American women diagnosed with AIDS were black (59 percent) or Hispanic (17 percent). Non-Hispanic black women had 165 percent higher rates of reported AIDS than white women. The great majority of women (79 percent) contacted AIDS from drug use or heterosexual contact with homosexual males outside of marriage.

The left, with Herculean effort, utilizes its media control to indoctrinate the culture with its "anything goes" life philosophy. But when life gets serious, society turns from it to reality. In the real world, there are healthy and unhealthy ways of living. Medicine can do much to offset the problems of unhealthy lifestyles, but there usually are residual effects and some of these are dangerous to others. When dealing with something as essential to human life as blood, mindless left-wing sentimentalism just will not fly.

When it comes to transmitting AIDS, people get serious with their institutions, at least outside of Washington. Mother nature will have her way no matter how strongly liberal ideological blinders distort the media and culture. Not all of the bias, demonstrations or threats in the world will change that fact.

Not surprisingly, there is a blood shortage. That is the crisis, and only the moral can help. The need is great and the supply short. So call the Red Cross today, if you can measure up.

Donald Devine, former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a columnist and a Washington-based policy consultant.



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