PORTLAND – Protesters around the country Thursday demonstrated against a ban that prohibits gay men from donating blood.
In the mid-1980s the FDA banned gay men from giving blood in order to lessen the spread of diseases. The LGBT community has called the ban unfair and says it’s time to end it.
Local organizers asked gay men to show up at the American Red Cross in North Portland and do an HIV test using a mouth swab. If the results were negative, they were encouraged to offer a blood donation.
The HIV results for people turned away from donating blood will be compiled and sent to the FDA. Activists hoped the efforts would show how much healthy blood is being wasted.
“I understand why it was put in place in the first place, when there was so much confusion and stigma,” said volunteer donor Alex Horsey. “But at this point it's just perpetuating the stigma and the negativity surrounding HIV and the LGBT community.”
“My blood is just as valuable as anyone else's and I could be saving lives,” he added.
Organizers of the blood drive said the FDA doesn't have any immediate plans to revisit the ban. They hoped to at least start the discussion.
KGW Reporter Ashley Korslien contributed to this report.