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Activists hope to highlight prejudice in blood donations

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A nationwide blood drive going on today won't actually collect any blood. That's because it's a demonstration to show alleged prejudice and discrimination against gay men. The organizers say this National Gay Blood Drive is to call attention to the fact that the federal government bans gay men from donating blood.

Eric Jones met us at KC's Community Blood Center to show how quickly he gets turned away when he tries to donate blood. He says his rejection is based on only one thing: the fact he's a gay man.

"Once I answer that question 'yes' my blood won't be taken," Jones said.

Jones and activist Caleb-Michael Files are part of the national movement to call attention to the FDA's 30 year policy banning gay men from donating blood.

"It's an outdated policy because we have the technology now that can point out HIV in blood," Jones said, "I've been tested, I'm HIV negative so I have perfectly good blood and it could save a life just like anyone elses."

Just as he predicted, Jones walks into the center and comes back out a short time later, rejected. The Community Blood Center says it's only following the FDA's policy.

"The FDA has oversight on blood banking in this country,"  center spokesman Stan Tate said. "Any blood center or blood bank will adhere to those policies. I can't comment on their policies but we follow the policies and procedures."

But the center admits summer is a tough time for them, they only have a little more than a days supply of blood on hand right now. Jones and Files say the fact that they can't donate actually hurts the entire community.

"Me personally I used to give blood every 9 weeks," said Files, "and we know the community blood center is less than a one day supply of blood. So we want to say we have a large LGBT population in KC who would be willing and excited to help our fellow Kansas Citians."

Activists around the country are collecting the numbers today to see how many gay men attempted to donate and will forward the results to the FDA to show them that it's time to revisit this policy.

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