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Straight Man Says Blood Bank Rejected Him Because He Seemed Gay

"I was humiliated and embarrassed."

An Indiana man said he tried to donate blood at a donation center but was turned away because appeared to be gay.

Gary, Ind. resident Aaron Pace said he's straight, but was told during the interview screening process at Bio-Blood Components Inc. that because of his looks, mannerisms and character, he "appear[ed] to be gay," and would not be permitted to donate.

"I was humiliated and embarrassed," Pace told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's not right that homeless people can give blood but homosexuals can't. And I'm not even a homosexual."

The blood center did not return the Sun-Times' requests for comment, but according to a Food and Drug Administration policy implemented in 1983, men who have had sex with another man, even once, since 1977 are not permitted to donate. The policy was put in place during the AIDS crisis amid fears that HIV could spread through blood donations.

Today, all donated blood is screened for infectious diseases, including HIV, yet the ban remains in place due to the "increased risk for the presence of" HIV among men who have sex with men. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services voted against recommending a change to the FDA policy.

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