Members of gay community want lifetime blood donation ban lifted

National effort brings gay blood drive to Indy

INDIANAPOLIS - Members of the gay community organized a blood drive across the country Friday afternoon.

Most participants knew that they would be rejected because the Food and Drug Administration does not accept donations from gay people who are sexually active.

The Indiana Blood Center was in need of donations and Kevin Sterrett wanted to help, but his blood was turned down because of how he answered one question.

The question read “from 1977 to the present, have you had sexual contact with another male even once?"

Sterrett first checked the yes box six years ago at a work blood drive.

"So I turned the questionnaire in and the gentleman reviewed it with me and said do you realize how you answered this question and I said ‘yeah,’ he said ‘well we can't take your blood,’" Sterrett said.

The FDA requires all blood centers in the U.S. to impose a lifetime ban on Sterrett and others who answered the same question like he did.

"There has been a discussion going on about deferrals and those decisions, but at this point, the FDA guidelines are that this is a lifetime blood donation deferral," said Shannon Jordan with the Indiana Blood Center.

The FDA decided people who are sexually active and gay are at a high risk of carrying the AIDS virus.

The national effort held Friday was more about proving a point.

A mobile HIV testing center was set up and participants went through a risk assessment questionnaire.

Then their mouths were swabbed before they received their results.

Sterrett's HIV test came back clean.

He took his results into the blood center, but didn't get past the front desk.

Sterrett said he knew he would be turned away.

“I did and I think it's kind of to make a statement and hopefully this is happening across the country today. So hopefully, there will be enough of a showing of people that it will make some kind of impact," he said.

The national effort was part of a California filmmaker’s documentary on homosexual discrimination.

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