Gay Montclair University Student Protests Ban on Donating Blood
Posted on March 4, 2009
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A 20-year-old sophomore at Montclair State University, Weinstein signed up to donate blood last November at a Red Cross blood drive on campus because, he said, “I thought it would be a nice thing to do.”
But when Weinstein, who is gay, answered “yes” on a questionnaire asking whether or not he had had sexual relations with another man since 1977, American Red Cross volunteers running the drive told him that he was ineligible to be a donor.
“My initial reaction was absolute shock. I thought, there’s no way,” Weinstein, a Randolph native, said last week.
For the past several months, blood supplies around New Jersey have hit critically low levels. Karen Ferriday, a spokeswoman for Community Blood Services in Oradell, said blood stores, which optimally provide three to five days worth of blood, have fallen to half-day supplies for the past several months.
Still, donors like Weinstein have found themselves turned away from donating because a Food and Drug Administration regulation born at the height of the AIDS scare in 1983 still places a lifetime ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men.
Women who have had sex with a gay or bisexual partner are out, too.
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