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Gay, Bisexual Blood Donations Still Restricted After Orlando Massacre

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While thousands crowd donation centers to help the 53 people who were injured, federal policy still imposes a one-year celibacy before queer men can donate.

ORLANDO--After the tragic shooting Sunday morning at gay nightclub Pulse, thousands have turned out to donate blood, but gay and bisexual men are still barred from giving if they have failed to stay celibate for the last 12 months.

In fact, OneBlood, the local blood donation agency, has had to turn people away and schedule appointments throughout the week, because they lack the equipment to handle the flood of donors crowding their doors.

Local and state authorities had stated that all blood would be welcome, but have since walked back those comments after OneBlood confirmed it would adhere to the Food and Drug Administration's one-year deferral for gay and bisexual men.

Until 2015, the FDA imposed a lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM)--a ban that dates back to 1983, during the AIDS crisis. Now, MSM can donate if they have not had sex with a same-sex partner in the last year.

The donations will benefit the 53 people who were injured when Omar Mateen entered the club and opened fire. Forty-nine people and Mateen himself lost their lives in the shootout.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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