With the success of It’s A Sin bringing about more conversation and awareness of the AIDS crisis during the 1980’s, many activists, advocates and supporters have seen their stories highlighted once more – such as the lesbian women referred to as the Blood Sisters.
The nurses who worked on the wards with HIV patients were fighting a relentless disease, and at the time all knew about it for sure was that it would likely mean a death sentence for those afflicted. However, this did not stop the lesbian community from stepping in to help out. Hospitals became full of lesbian volunteers, and a group of Blood Sisters were founded.
These lesbians were willing to give up more than just their time and effort, many of them offered to give their blood after gay men were banned from donating as authorities tried to stop the spread of HIV.
In 1983, the San Diego Blood Sisters group was born. They organised blood drives to make sure there was always enough blood to match demand. There was an account set up with a private San Diego blood bank that would allow donors to decide where the blood they donated went and, in this case, it went to the people suffering from HIV and AIDS.
During the first blood drive, the organisers expected about 50 people to show up but it turned out over 200 women showed up and queued to give their blood to the cause. The blood drives ran through the ’80s and into the ’90s when the first treatments for HIV started to become available.
The drives also gave more than just the blood. They were also a way for the men suffering to know that they were loved and part of a supportive community that will always do what must be done to overcome adversity. At the time this support was invaluable, as the US government had been criticised for all but abandoning the community of gay men. President Ronald Reagan didn’t even speak publicly about AIDS until 1987.
Groups like the Blood Sisters were more than just a group for support, they challenged stigma and injustice and they brought a whole community together to show that we are strong and will rise up in times of difficulty.
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