National Blood Drive Protests Ban on Gay Donors
(NEW YORK) -- For the second year in a row, groups held a national blood drive to protest the ban against gay and bisexual men donating blood.
Grassroots organizations collaborated Friday to draw attention to the policy and call for change.
While the American Medical Association says the policy is no longer necessary with improved HIV blood screening, federal officials have indicated that they're willing to change the rules only if research shows no risk to recipients.
In Portland, Maine, allies donated blood in the names of men banned.
"I'm at as much risk if I were being promiscuous or living in a different kind of lifestyle as anyone," said participant Karen Ball. "...Pretty shocking to find out that most gay people can't donate blood and I just thought that was horrible."
The campaign is pushing for at least 100,000 signatures to amend the policy.
Some experts agree with the call for change, explaining that the ban is outdated.
"HIV carries with it a lot of stigma with it no matter what and on top of that, in some parts of the country, being gay still carries stigma with it although that has gotten better," said University of Alabama Birmingham professor Dr. Michael Saag. "...The tests are much, much better and we don't need that discrimination anymore."
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