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S. Fla. Gay Community Protesting FDA Blood Donation Rule

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A small protest was held Wednesday against the Red Cross rule stating gays cannot donate blood. (CBS4)

A small protest was held Wednesday against the Red Cross rule stating gays cannot donate blood. (CBS4)

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Healthwatch

WILTON MANORS (CBS4) – Things were pretty quiet at the blood-mobile Wednesday.

It was sitting on Wilton Drive, in the middle of what’s known as “The Gayberhood.” So there are a lot of people here who can’t give, even though many would like to.

“This is Wilton Manors,” explained protestor Terry DeCarlo. “It’s almost a 40% gay community and you’re doing a blood drive here which automatically negates 40% of the people in the city from giving blood.”

Terry DeCarlo and a couple others encourage those who can, to step in and donate. But they’re protesting the fact that gays are banned for life from giving blood.

A 1985 guideline from the FDA, as spelled out on the American Red Cross website, states “you should not give blood if you are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once since 1977.”

Eligibility is determined by a series of questions donors must answer before giving blood.

“It’s an antiquated law,” said DeCarlo.  “There are plenty of gay men who get tested regularly for HIV, the blood banks test the blood strict now and the law needs to be overturned.”

“I think that some of these guidelines may be a little bit outdated,” said Dr. Robert Hasty from Nova Southeastern University.

He said these guidelines are based on old blood screening techniques.

“It should not be limited to just men who have sex with men,” Dr. Hasty said.  “It should be folks who have any risky behavior, such as multiple sexual partners, unprotected sex with unknown partners, those type of behaviors.”

Jamie and he boyfriend walked up to the donation site. They would love to donate blood, but since they’re gay, they can’t.

Jamie would like to see the rules updated.

“I love to give back,” he said.  “No matter what.  I think everyone would have equal rights and be able to give back. “

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