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Should U.S. End Ban On Donated Blood From Gay/Bisexual Men?

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A decades-old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men is under question and Las Vegas activists hope to finally have it changed.

For 32 years, gay and bisexual men have been not been allowed to donate blood. For any reason. For any cause.

HIV infection and AIDS were huge unknowns in the early 1980s when the ban went into place.

But blood tests are much better than they were three decades ago; tainted blood can be identified much more accurately and quickly.

And some say that preventing gay or bisexual men from donating blood is tantamount to discrimination – heterosexual men and women can also be infected with HIV, yet they can donate blood.

So today at The Gay and Lesbian Community Center in downtown Las Vegas, a blood drive called End The Ban is taking place to raise awareness about the issue.

Colby Spencer organized the blood drive. He told KNPR's State of Nevada he doesn't have a problem with being asked questions he just wants them to focus on behavior not orientation.  

"Gay does not equal HIV, behavior equals HIV," Spencer said. "All I care about is if the FDA wants to continue to ask qualifying questions of blood donors that those questions be based on behavior that they not be based on orientation." 

He also pointed out that gay men are the "most actively tested group of anyone." He said it is part of gay culture to get HIV tests on a regular basis. 

 

Colby Spencer, organizer, End The Ban Blood Drive

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.