College students challenged a Food and Drug Administration lifetime ban against gay men donating blood during a WCSU blood drive Wednesday.
The ban dates back to the early 1980s, when statistics said men having sex with men were more than twice as likely to have the HIV virus than hetrosexual men. Although that ban had the effect of preventing some HIV positive men from donating blood, it also eliminated a larger number of healthy donors from giving blood.
"We're petitioning to have the FDA review and revise their policy," said Autumn Christoforo, president of the Gay Straight Alliance at
Christoforo said only about 4 percent of Conneccticut's residents give blood, and eliminating a portion of them (gay men) from donating because of an outdated policy makes no sense.
Will Love, who signed the petition Wednesday, said he hasn't been able to give blood since 1984, and this policy isn't needed. He said, and this information was confirmed by the national Centers for Disease Control, that donated blood is screened twice to check for the HIV virus.
"Their data is no longer accurate," Christoforo said.
The American Red Cross, which is in charge of overseeing most of the nation's blood drives, is also asking for the FDA to revisit and reconsider this ban, said Elaine St. Peter, who works in communications with the American Red Cross in Connecticut.
St. Peter said the Red Cross has several goals, including protecting the health of donors, of Red Cross volunteers and protecting the health of the people who receive the donated blood.
St. Peter said the American Red Cross is obligated by law to follow the FDA guidelines, but the American Red Cross now thinks the lifetime ban against gay donors is not warranted.