Gay blood drive taking place in Toledo - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Gay blood drive taking place in Toledo

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The sign on the door at the American Red Cross reads, "Your Blood Saves Lives."

That's why some men want to get involved and help.

But they aren't allowed, because they are gay.

"A lot of people didn't know this was an issue, so I think doing this and putting it out in the forefront is going to get people talking and get the ban to change," Brent Rabie, co-lead, Gay Blood Drive Toledo, said.

Men who've had sex with other men at any time since 1977 can't donate blood.

The policy, put in place by the FDA, says the history of male-to-male sex is associated with and increased risk for exposure to infectious diseases, like HIV and Hepatitis B.

"I understand that in 1977 the HIV AIDS epidemic, but times have changed," Phillipe Taylor, co-lead of the Gay Blood Drive Toledo said.

"Back then, there wasn't the same kinds of test they could perform to see what kind of diseases could be in the blood, but now they have the technology to do that," Rabie said.

According to the FDA, current HIV tests are highly accurate, but can't detect the virus 100% of the time.

Taylor and Rabie say they respect the work of the FDA but feel the policy is outdated.

To help raise awareness, they've helped put together a gay blood drive here in Toledo.

It's all part of a national effort to encourage the FDA to take a fresh look at the ban.

Basically, gay men will go to the Red Cross with a friend or family member who will donate on their behalf.

Organizers say it will help replenish blood supplies and hopefully open some eyes in the process.

"We want our gay rights, but it's more so saying we want to help but we're not allowed," Taylor said.

They're also trying to get 100,000 signatures nationwide to send to the White House.

The hope is the support will drive the movement and encourage the FDA to take another look at the policy.

The blood drive is Friday at the American Red Cross on Executive Parkway from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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