Chicago participates in first-ever gay blood drive - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Chicago `gay blood drive` aims to pressure FDA to accept donations

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Gay and bisexual men across the country, and in Chicago, will be participating in the first-ever "gay blood drive" - although they say they do expect to be turned away.

A national effort gets underway to pressure federal regulators to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood. Since 1977, the Food and Drug Administration has passed on their blood.

The ban was introduced when HIV was discovered in the blood supply. It does not include homosexual women.

Friday's protest targets 53 donor sites - including the drive at Lifesource Blood Center in Lincoln Park. Potential donors, who have been cleared as HIV negative, will be rolling up their sleeves to donate on Friday.

The FDA release a statement saying the agency welcomes scientific and public input, and will continue to reevaluate donor deferral policies to ensure the safety of blood and blood products for patients who need those products.

The FDA reported HIV became relatively stable between 2008 and 2010. However, they saw an increase in gay men by about 12% and a decrease in other populations. The largest increase was 22% in men between the ages of 13 to 24. They also noticed a spike in the amount of young people donating blood.

A local gay rights group that wants to see the federal policy turned on its head organized the protest. The group wants to see blood donation regulation based on an individual's risk, not based on a person's sexual orientation.

The blood drive is scheduled to last from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

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