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“As each donor is rejected, their test result will be collected, compiled, and delivered to the FDA — visually conveying to them on a national level how much blood the gay community could contribute to the blood supply should they lift their current policy,” Mr. Yezak said on the website

The American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers and AABB, formerly the American Association of Blood Banks, said in a joint statement that they appreciated the organizers’ interest in raising awareness about the ban, but “we are concerned that the event has the potential to disrupt blood center operations.”

However, blood centers in more than 50 cities are participating in the gay blood drive, including American Red Cross centers in the District; Boston; Philadelphia; Nashville, Tenn.; and Omaha, Neb.

The Gay Men’s Health Crisis is providing the HIV testing unit outside the New York Blood Center on East 67th Street in Manhattan, said Jason Cianciotto, public policy director for GMHC.

“We think that it’s an important opportunity to educate the public about why the lifetime ban on men who have sex with men giving blood is outdated and unscientific, and needs to be changed,” Mr. Cianciotto said.

The GMHC wants to see the policy changed so that gay men who are sexually active but monogamous — had only one male sex partner in the past year — can donate blood.

People should be screened for “high-risk” behavior, regardless of sexual orientation, Mr. Cianciotto said. Also, donor-deferral periods should reflect the advanced state testing technology — people may need to be deferred for only a few weeks, not months or years, he said.

GMHC’s views differ from policy changes adopted in other countries: Canada recently joined the United Kingdom, Sweden, Japan, Australia and other countries that permit MSM to donate blood, but only if they abstained from sex with a man for one or more years.

Mr. Cianciotto rejected such no-sex deferral policies as having “the same effect as a lifetime ban.”

Policy battles

No changes are imminent in the FDA’s MSM donor policy, but federal officials are gathering evidence that might allow them to change it, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said this week. Some research results are expected this year, and the next public meeting on the MSM blood donor policy will be in December, she said.

Calls for change come from several arenas.

In 2010, dozens of members of Congress led by Sen. John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, urged the FDA to end its “antiquated” policy on MSM blood donations.

“The blood banks themselves have said this lifetime ban is medically unwarranted and want to see it changed,” Rep. Mike Quigley, Illinois Democrat, said this week, referring to 2010 statements made by the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers and AABB.

In June, the American Medical Association also joined the chorus, saying the MSM lifetime ban was “discriminatory and not based on sound science.”

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