Aaron Pace, 22, of Gary, Ind. says that while attempting to donate blood at Bio-Blood Components, Inc., he was turned away during the interview process because he “appears to be a homosexual.” Pace admits that he might be a bit effeminate, but says that he’s not gay. He told the Chicago Sun Times, “I was humiliated and embarrassed. It’s not right that homeless people can give blood but homosexuals can’t. And I’m not even a homosexual.”
While Bio-Blood Components has not publicly commented on the incident, blood and plasma donation centers like it, including the Red Cross, are required to follow a 1983 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy that bans men who have sex at least once with another man since 1977 from giving blood. The policy was created in early days of the AIDS epidemic and, somewhat controversially, still stands.
Many gay activists, lawmakers and medical professionals, including the Red Cross, feel that it’s time to change the policy. In 1983, tests that screen blood for HIV were unavailable. Now, it is standard that all blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other blood-borne pathogens.