Gay men still banned from donating blood

The American Red Cross is in dire need for all blood types.

POSTED: 07:36 PM EDT Jul 10, 2013    UPDATED: 12:38 AM EDT Jul 11, 2013 

Right now the American Red Cross has an urgent need for platelet and blood donors of all blood types.

There's one group of people who would like to donate, but the Food and Drug Administration won't let them.

"I just don't think you can discriminate against one population because of a historical piece," Drop-In Center Director Pam Meador said.

For 30 years, the Food and Drug Administration has banned gay men from donating blood. The ban started during the AIDS epidemic when HIV was new and paths of infection were unknown.

"For years HIV has been stigmatized as a gay disease and it's not anymore," Meador said.

Dr. Larry Monahan agrees. He's chairman of the American Medical Association committee that decided that the FDA's continued practice of barring gay men from donating blood is not only discriminatory, but not up to date with current science.

"The fact that men how have other sex with men have a higher rate of anything should not prevent them and the FDA should not prevent them from donating blood, which can be tested," American Medical Association Dr. Larry Monahan said.

The FDA sets the guidelines the Red Cross follows for blood donors.  In a statement the FDA says its "blood safety efforts focus on minimizing the risk of transmitting infectious diseases, while maintaining an adequate supply of blood for the nation."

Dr. Monahan says since the Red Cross tests every single donation given for an array of STDs, the ban on gay men isn't needed.  But he says eventually progress will be made with blood donation and the gay community.