Aaron Pace understands that he looks and acts effeminately, and realizes that some people think this means he's gay. He says he isn't, but it was his looks, character and behavior--just his looks, character and behavior--that prompted an Indiana blood donation center to reject him when he tried to donate blood recently because they assumed he was homosexual.
And Aaron isn't happy about this. He had gone to Bio-Blood Components Inc. in Gary, which pays for blood and plasma donations, but during the interview process he was told he could not be a blood donor there because he “appears to be a homosexual.”
Donation centers like Bio-Blood Components, and even the American Red Cross, still cite a nearly 30-year-old federal policy to turn away gay men from donating. The Food and Drug Administration policy, which was implemented in 1983, states that men who have had sex--even one time--with another man since 1977, cannot donate blood.
Because we all have The AIDS, you know.
The policy was sparked by concerns that HIV would taint the blood supply, and, back in those days, screening tests to identify HIV-positive blood had not yet been developed. But today, all donated blood is tested for HIV, as well as for hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases, before it can be released to hospitals. And gay activists, blood centers including the American Red Cross, and even some lawmakers are now demanding that the lifetime ban is “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
Curt Ellis, former director of The Aliveness Project of Northwest Indiana, an agency that’s been educating the public about HIV-related issues: “It is unfair, outrageous and just plain stupid. The policy is based on the stigma associated with HIV that existed early on, [and it] seems like some stigmas will just never die.”
But, while the Indiana State Department of Health doesn’t have a policy regarding the collection of blood and its criteria, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year voted again not to recommend a change to the FDA’s policy of a lifetime deferral for men who have sex with other men.
“I was humiliated and embarrassed,” Aaron Pace says. “It’s not right that homeless people can give blood but homosexuals can’t. And I’m not even a homosexual.”
He just looks like "one".