After Marshall Duer-Balkind, 30, exited a blood donation center on Friday morning, he held up a long green form as evidence that he had been rejected as a blood donor.
On the form Duer-Balkind pointed out that section that disqualified him from being a blood donor because of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy that bans men who have sex with men from giving blood.
After Duer-Balkind showed the form to two volunteers from the National Gay Blood Drive demonstration, the volunteers pulled out a red ink pad and stamped “Rejected” on his forearm.
The stamp was proof that Duer-Balkind had taken part in a nationwide demonstration to protest the FDA policy, which bans men who have sex with men from donating blood, since they are considered at a higher risk for having HIV.
“I think it’s an absolutely ridiculous and antiquated policy,” said Duer-Balkind, who had come to participate in the demonstration during a vacation in New York.
There were more than 50 demonstrations planned as part of the National Gay Blood Drive in various U.S. cities on Friday. The drive was planned to help draw attention to the number of potential blood donors who are automatically disqualified due to their sexual orientation. In addition to men who have sex with men, women are disqualified from giving blood if within the last 12 months they have had sex with a man who at any point since 1977 has sex with another man.
At designated blood donation centers across the country, participants in the National Gay Blood Drive were tested for HIV and if they tested negative, attempted to donate blood at a blood donation center. When they were rejected due to FDA regulations, they received a stamp and turned in their HIV testing results to be sent to the FDA.
The FDA’s decades-long ban stared during the AIDS crisis and restricts any man, who has had sex with another man since 1977, from donating blood