Facebook2Tweet0Pin0 Olympia, WA – The FDA regulates all blood donation in the United States. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are permanently deferred from giving blood. Despite this discriminatory policy, a group of gay men and their allies have decided to adopt a blood drive, encouraging friends, family, and community members to donate blood on their behalf.All blood centers in the nation are bound to follow the guidelines established by the federal government. However, this is the official position of the local (Puget Sound Blood Center) on this issue:“There has been an FDA regulation in place since early 1983 which defers MSM (men having sex with men) from blood donation. At that time, much less was known about HIV and how it is transmitted, and there were no tests available for detection. Much has been learned since 1983. Today, we have highly sensitive and accurate tests for HIV. In the medical and scientific community, and among major blood centers there is broad agreement that the current FDA deferral criteria is outmoded, and can be updated to better reflect current science and testing sensitivity. For several years, some members of Congress and major blood centers and associations .across the U.S. have been urging the FDA to review the policy, recommending that the MSM deferral period can be shortened with no risk to the safety of blood supply.”Despite the FDA’s outdated policy, the MAC (Mpowerment Advisory Committee), a group that advises on LGBTQ issues in Olympia, has decided to take a positive approach to this issue, supporting and facilitating the vitally important community act of blood donation. This unique blood drive will take place at First Christian Church at 701 Franklin Street in downtown Olympia on Thursday, September 6th from 11am – 5pm. Appointments are encouraged and can be scheduled by visiting the following this link. Walk-ins are also welcome. Visit Facebook for additional information.Two years ago, Matthew Shrader, a student at South Puget Sound Community College was not allowed to donate because of the MSM criteria. He researched the issue, circulated a petition –gathering 546 signatures — and presented his case to the FDA, which refused to change their established position. He decided to take action. “As a leader in the Olympia LGBTQ community, it is my responsibility to educate people, fight discrimination, and build a greater sense of community. I have great pride to serve on a committee with fellow community leaders that share this sense of responsibility. Gay men and their allies could boycott blood drives in protest, but that will only cause harm. The love, compassion, and leadership being displayed by the MAC is the only way to lead people and overcome discrimination.”Tori Fairhurst, who schedules local blood drives for PSBC, has been working closely with MAC to coordinate this event. “The fact that this group of men is choosing to respond with love instead of protest is incredible. They understand that there are people in our community who are sick and in need of help. The fact that these men are recruiting donors to give on their behalf is remarkable. This is unprecedented.”For more information please contact Matthew A. Shrader, MAC Secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org 360-490-7004.