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Nationwide 'Gay Blood Drive' Seeks To Lift FDA Donor Restrictions

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A local film director is organizing the "first-ever nationwide gay blood drive" in hopes that federal regulators will lift a decades-old ban against blood donors who have had male-to-male sex.

CBS News reports that Ryan James Yezak will film the blood drive for his film, Second Class Citizens, an upcoming feature‐length documentary about discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Locally, the drive will take place Friday at the Kaiser Permanente Blood Donation Center at 4700 Sunset Boulevard. Across the nation on the same day, "eligible gay and bisexual male donors" will show up to get tested at a donation center and then attempt to donate their blood.

When the men are rejected, their test results will be forwarded to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to demonstrate how much blood the gay community could be contributing to the blood supply.

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Before each donor attempts to give blood, a mobile rapid HIV testing at each location will confirm their status, according to Yezak.

Since AIDS first surfaced in 1977, the FDA has refused donations from men who've had male-to-male sex (MSM) because of fears that HIV, hepatitis B and other infections might be transmitted.

Yezak called the ban "outdated" and that it prohibits "otherwise eligible gay and bisexual men…to contribute to the nation's blood supply and help save lives. The ban perpetuates negative stereotypes and stigma. Whether intentional or not, it is discrimination based on sexual orientation."

The FDA has stated that its policy is based solely on "the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections" and not "on any judgment concerning the donor's sexual orientation."