SPOKANE, Wash. -- Blood drives around the country tried to raise awareness Friday about a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.
The Inland Northwest Blood Center showed its support by getting signatures for a petition to get rid of the Food and Drug Administration policy dating back to the early 1980s. The policy says any man who has had sex with another man can never donate blood.
Gay rights activists say this policy is out of date and needs to be changed. Local blood centers said they must follow that policy.
The policy comes from the AIDS epidemic and the concern that gay men were more likely to carry the disease. Local staff at the Inland Northwest Blood Center said after 30 years that things have changed.
"We've had a lot of advancements in our medical technology and testing since the original policy came out," said Inland Northwest Blood Center employee, Elizabeth Giles.
Supporters who want the policy changed said it would open up a new group of men and increase the amount of blood available.
Staff at the blood center said other countries who have had the same policy have made changes and that the FDA should do the same.