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Blood supply critically low, raising questions why gay men can't donate

Posted at 7:52 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 20:52:59-05

WACO, TX — The country is seeing a dangerously low blood supply. Donation centers are asking everyone to roll up their sleeves and give. Almost everyone.

The FDA made a rule almost 40 years ago saying gay and bi-sexual men can't donate blood for fear of spreading HIV. That means millions of people are missing out on donating and potentially saving a life.

For weeks, many in the LGBTQ community are are making it heard and said this law is outdated, some calling it discriminatory.

It should be an easy process. You show up, roll up your sleeves and potentially save a life. But easy for some is nearly impossible for others.

Christopher Hamilton is the Chief Executive Officer of Texas Health Action and a member of the LGBTQ community. He said due to a rule he and other gay and bi-sexual men can not give blood.

"Many member of our community would like to give back but are discriminated against," Hamilton said. "The continued exclusion of people based upon their membership of certain categories has no basis in science or fact anymore."

The fear was, these donations with HIV positive blood will contaminate the supply, spread the virus and infect others. But after 40 years, times and the screening process has changed.

Linda Goelzer with Carter Blood Care in Central Texas said blood donations go through a vigorous screening process.

"The blood goes through more than 14 tests of individual virus's that could be spread through a blood transfusion," Goelzer said.

One of those tests is for HIV.

Hamilton said due to advancements and science and medicine, the rule doesn't apply anymore. As blood banks continue to beg for donors amid one of the biggest shortages we've seen in history — Hamilton said there's a whole group of people overlooked.