Blood donors protest restrictions preventing gay men from donating

Blood donors protest restrictions preventing gay men from donating

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - More than 30 years ago, the FDA banned men who have had sexual contact with another man from giving blood, fearing that it would spread AIDS and the virus that causes it.

Even as screening methods improve, the ban still stands, but some activists are asking their straight friends to roll up their sleeves in protest.

"HIV is not a gay man's disease. Everybody can get it, and by banning gay men from giving blood, you are essentially giving this stigma power," Kayla King said. She and her mother, Lisa, came to the National Gay Blood Drive to support gay friends.

The American Red Cross and America's Blood Centers say the current lifetime deferral for men who've had sex with other men should be modified and made comparable to others whose behaviors raise the risk of spreading blood borne illnesses. One suggestion is requiring men to wait one year after their last homosexual contact before giving blood.

Lisa King believes that the ban is no longer needed because screening has improved. She said, "They should be able to feel the way we feel once we give. I mean it's just an elation that you feel, because you know you've helped people."

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