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National gay blood drive Friday, July 11

CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- Hundreds of people in the tri-state area, are expected to participate in the first National Gay Blood Drive.   
It's a drive designed to send a message because by law, gay men can't give blood.  It's estimated every two seconds in the United States someone needs blood to survive.  Those who donate know this.

Cara Nicolas, a donor, said, "It's a nice way to know that you are making a difference."

Josh Neumeyer said, "Of course, with the deferral for gay and bisexual men, I can't give anymore."

Josh Neumeyer is one of hundreds who cannot give blood but is expected to show up for the first national gay blood drive.  If you can't donate due to deferral, the national gay blood drive event invites people to bring a friend to donate in their place.  The friend is then invited to sign a card and take a picture with you.  Both will be sent to the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The goal is to change a policy that has been in place for blood donation for a very long time.  Right now the policy is generally geared toward any man who has had sex with another man, since 1977.  Changing this policy is now supported in this joint statement by a number of agencies that collect blood; including Hoxworth Blood Centers and the American Red Cross.

Greg Boothe says the policy was put in place at a time the blood supply could not be tested for several viruses including HIV, the virus that causes aids.  Now officials can screen for HIV both the antibody and at the molecular level.

Boothe said, "We want to base our decisions on sound scientific data and put in a deferral that is inclusive rather than exclusive of certain populations."
Greg Boothe says he thinks the blood supply can be kept safe and update this deferral policy.

The gay men's blood drive is Friday at Hoxworth Central at the University of Cincinnati.
To make an appointment call 513-451-0910 or CLICK HERE.

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