Gay men to protest blood donation ban

Oct. 3, 2011 at 9:54 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Gay rights advocates say they want gay men to have the right to donate blood, something currently prohibited under a U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy.

Under current rules, a single sexual experience with another man is grounds for what blood banks call "lifetime deferral."

In Ohio, advocates for a change in the rules say they'll work with the American Red Cross of Central Ohio in an attempt to both boost donations and protest the policy, the Columbus Dispatch reported Monday. They say they'll host a "Brothers in Blood" drive Oct. 13 where friends, family, coworkers and others will give blood on behalf of those who can't.

Gay men will provide their names and contact information indicating that they want to donate so the Red Cross can contact them if the policy is ever successfully overturned.

The government, which rejected a policy change last year, will continue to review the matter, a statement from FDA spokeswoman Rita Chappelle said.

The FDA rule puts the Red Cross in a difficult position because many people assume the organization agrees with the policy, Rodney Wilson, spokesman for the American Red Cross of Central Ohio, said.

"Nobody agrees with the policy of permanent deferral," Wilson said of the organization.

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