MASTIC BEACH - There is a new call to lift restrictions blocking gay men from donating blood in the wake of the Orlando attack.
Many members of the LGBT community were barred from donating blood following the nightclub attack. There are restrictions when it comes to gay men donating blood because the FDA says they're at higher risk of having HIV.
“Historically, gay men who had sex with another gay man - even once - since 1977, have been unable to donate blood,” says Harvey Schaffler, of the New York Blood Center.
That FDA regulation is set to change from a lifetime ban to only include men who have had sex with other men within the past 12 months. LGBT supporters say even with the change, the ban is discriminatory.
“The fact that the FDA is still using HIV as a reason to keep this ban alive is poor in so many ways,” says the LGBT Network’s David Kilmnick, who calls the 12-month ban ridiculous. “It sends a message out there to people who are not gay that they're not at risk for HIV.”
John DeVito, of Mastic Beach, agrees. The 25-year-old is openly gay and running for state senator. He says he lied when he donated blood this week to make a statement.
“In doing this act of civil disobedience, I informed the New York Blood Center immediately the next day what I had done,” says DeVito. “Instead of using my contribution to save three lives, it’s sitting in a wastebasket.”
But the New York Blood Center says it relies on people being honest for safety reasons, even though each blood donation is tested.