PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gay men aren’t allowed to donate blood in America, and some people in the North Hills say it’s time for that to change.
The National Gay Blood Drive was held in about 60 cities, and in our area, it was held at the Studio Raw hair salon in Ross Township.
Gay men showed up with their friends or allies and then those allies donated on their behalf.
Eight-four people donated blood at the Pittsburgh location.
Ryan Scully is a healthy gay man who would donate blood if he were allowed, but since he isn’t, his sister Kaitlin Scully and his friend Elizabeth Roth donated on his behalf.
“It’s a great to save lives and since he can’t, I figure why not,” said Roth.
“It’s just not right. I think gay people should be allowed to give blood as well as straight people,” said Ryan Scully.
Back in 1983, when there was no simple way test for HIV in the blood, the FDA banned gay men from donating.
The Central Blood Bank, which gathered the blood today, supports a change. It’s governing group, which includes the American Red Cross, issued a statement that says in part: “The current lifetime deferral for men who have sex with other men should be modified.”
The American Medication Association also supports a change.
But on its website, the FDA says the ban is “…because MSM (men who have sex with other men) are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, Hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.”
“Times have changed since 1983, and not all gay people have AIDS and HIV,” said Dan Burda, one of organizers locally and the owner of Studio Raw. “It’s a big myth these days. We’re very healthy people.”
“It just doesn’t make sense to me with all the testing that we have,” said fellow organizer Matthew Grindle.
While gay men face a lifetime ban from donating, the FDA does allow people to give blood if they’ve slept with a prostitute or an IV drug user, as long as more than 12 months have passed.
There’s a petition drive underway to undo the ban on gay men.
For more information, you can visit the White House website here.