Advocates call for change to laws banning gay men from donating - WNEM TV 5

Advocates call for change to laws banning gay men from donating blood

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SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

As cities across the country show their support for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando over the weekend, some people are trying to do their part and donate blood.

Many in the LGBT community, perhaps most affected by the tragedy, are being turned away.

For decades sexually active gay and bisexual men have been barred from donating blood, despite improved blood screening technology.

"Blood connects all of us whether we're in Michigan, whether we're in Orlando, or across the world. There's such a special connection we can make with one another through a blood line," said Tamar Chipp, with Michigan Blood.

The tragedy in Orlando is bringing new attention to the FDA's ban on gays donating blood. Some lawmakers and advocates are calling for a change.

"Sounds like it's a very outdated, discriminatory policy," said Cindy Martin, blood donor.

Martin has given blood several times. She's a gay woman and thinks gay men should be allowed to donate blood too.

"It's like back in the 80s when there was a fear all gay men had HIV and that's not the case. HIV is not restrictive to gay men or a certain population. Anyone can contract it," Martin siad.

Before you can give blood it's tested for several diseases including HIV.

Last year the FDA updated its policy to allow homosexual men to donate blood if they haven't had sex with another man for a year. That update is still being implemented.

Some, like Martin said it's still not enough.

"It needs to be changed, especially when there's a need. There's a need and a pool we're not getting from. It doesn't make any sense," Martin said.

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