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Aaron Pace Says Indiana Blood Center Rejected Him For Appearing Gay

Blood Donation

First Posted: 07/17/11 05:17 PM ET Updated: 09/16/11 06:12 AM ET

A straight man who tried donating blood at a Gary, Indiana blood center was reportedly turned away recently--because employees of the center thought he was gay.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Aaron Pace, 22, is "admittedly and noticeably effeminate," but still a heterosexual man. In any case, when he visited Bio-Blood Components Inc. in Gary, which pays for blood and plasma donations, he was told he could not be a donor because he “appears to be a homosexual.”

Bio-Blood would not respond to the Sun-Times for comment, but allegedly are taking advantage of an outdated federal law that was upheld in 2010.

CNN has more on the FDA ban:

Current FDA rules dictate that any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, even once, cannot donate blood. This rule has been in place since the early 1980s, when there were no tests in existence for identifying HIV-positive blood. Concerns about HIV tainting the blood supply prompted this policy, viewed as a safety measure.

Current law requires all donated blood to be tested for HIV and other infectious diseases, which is why gay activists and even the American Red Cross have called for the “medically and scientifically unwarranted" ban to be lifted. Also, most blood centers ask male donors if they have had sex with men during the screening process--which Bio-Blood reportedly did not do, instead they just presumed he was gay.

A 2010 study by the Williams Institute showed that if the FDA would lift its gay blood ban, nation's blood supply would be increased by 200,000 pints per year.

Still, when the Federal Advisory Committee on Blood Safety had a chance to lift the ban last year, they voted to uphold it, citing inadequate research surrounding high-risk donations. After the ban was upheld, the Red Cross expressed disappointment, saying they supported "rational, scientifically-based deferral periods that are applied fairly and consistently among donors who engage in similar risk activities."

As for Pace, he told the Sun-Times he was "humiliated and embarrassed," and expressed frustration with the hypocrisy of the ban. Read more about his experience here.

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Filed by Jen Sabella  |