Michael Rajner began donating blood in high school.
When the Wilton Manors LGBT activist was diagnosed as HIV positive he had to stop, but he never understood why other gay men weren’t able to donate.
The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it would modify the ban on gay and bisexual donors so that men who had not had sex within a year would be able to donate.
The decision was made, according to a press release, based off the advancement in HIV research.
This decision could increase the nation’s annual blood supply by 2 percent to 4 percent, according to the Williams Institute Research.
It’s progress, Rajner said, but not enough.
He said he understands why he can’t donate, but not why other gay men can’t, especially men in monogamous relationships. He said it makes gay and bisexual men feel unwelcome and unable to participate in a really important function.
A gay or bisexual man who’s been with another person for a long time and has been checked, he said, has a low chance of contracting HIV or STDS.
“It really just casts a poor image on all gay men in general.”
Monogamous heterosexual couples could have as great a risk of getting a sexually transmitted disorder as any gay or bisexual man, he said.
The United States has taken a step forward, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin said in a statement, but she said she hopes to see more.
“The Administration must continue to work towards implementing blood donation policies based on individual risk factors,” she said, “instead of singling out one group of people and turning away healthy, willing donors, even when there’s a blood shortage.”
Ian Thompson, the American Civil Liberties Union legislative representative, said for many gay men, the change will still act as a lifetime ban.
“Criteria for determining blood donor eligibility should be based on science, not outdated, discriminatory stereotypes and assumptions,” he said.
Rajner’s days of donating blood may be over, but he said he hopes other gay men can take his place.