Atlanta gay, bi men and allies sought for National Gay Blood Drive

The issue of the ban keeping gay and bisexual men from donating blood has gotten more and more attention in recent years and activists hope to take it to another level with the National Gay Blood Drive, which hits the parking lot of TEN on July 11.

60 cities throughout the U.S. will participate in the event, which is different this year in that gay or bisexual men will bring an eligible ally along with them who will donate blood. Last year, the event only included men who have sex with men (MSM) getting turned down at local blood banks when trying to donate, which led to Atlanta Blood Services leaders reminding staff to follow FDA guidelines.

This year, the ally will get a nametag saying “I donated for” followed by the name of the gay or bisexual man, who will be given a letter to the FDA that they can personalize and which will later be sent to the FDA.

Pictures of the pair will be taken for sharing on social media, and they will also sign a White House petition requesting a change to the ban. If 100,000 signatures are received during the month of July, the Obama administration has to respond.

The FDA’s official position on the matter is that they do not allow donations from any men who have had sex with men since 1977, citing the increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and other infections that can be transmitted through transfusion.

However, more and more organizations and leaders are coming out against the ban. The AABB, American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers all support a one-year deferral from the time of sexual contact.

And last June, the American Medical Assocation announced that they oppose the lifetime ban, calling it “discriminatory and not based on sound science.” They recommend evaluating donors according to the individual level of risk and not on sexual orientation alone.

The GA Voice will have continued coverage of the National Gay Blood Drive as the event approaches.

National Gay Blood Drive
July 11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
TEN Atlanta
990 Piedmont Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30309 | @patricksaunders