Aaron Pace is a 22-year-old straight man from Gary, Indiana who wanted to donate blood at his local blood and plasma center.
But after undergoing the usual interview and screening procedures, Pace asserts, he was told by members of the center’s highly-trained Secret-Gay Detection Unit that he “appear[ed] to be a homosexual” and therefore couldn’t donate.
“I was humiliated and embarrassed,” said Pace, 22. of Gary.
“It’s not right that homeless people can give blood but homosexuals can’t. And I’m not even a homosexual.”
No one at Bio-Blood returned calls seeking comment, but donation centers like it, and even the American Red Cross, are still citing a nearly 30-year-old federal policy to turn away gay men from donating.
FYI, blood donation centers are allowed to turn away gay men because of a Food and Drug Administration policy—enacted in 1983 for HIV fear reasons—that prohibits men who have had sex with a man even once since 1977 from donating blood.
Given that all blood is now tested for HIV, and that HIV can be transmitted between heterosexuals, it seems utterly senseless to discriminate against gay men who wish to donate blood.
But it looks like the ban will remain in place for a while: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which had an opportunity to change it last year, decided to leave it as-is.