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National Gay Blood Drive Held In Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa-A unique blood drive took place to help raise awareness against a 30 year old ban.

Tony Tyler is supporting his friends today as they give blood at LifeServe in Des Moines.

He would be right alongside them, but because Tyler is a gay man he is prevented from donating blood.

“I gave blood when I was in high school, I would still be giving blood if I could but the policies of the FDA it doesn’t allow it to happen,” says Tyler of Des Moines.

The FDA ban dates back to 1983, saying men who have had sex with other men are at an increased risk for HIV, Hepatitis B and other infections.

“It`s 2014, we have medical technology to test for things, they test for all sort of things in blood why can`t they do this as well, it just doesn`t make any sense to me at all,” says Tyler.

The group, Project H.I.M. (Healthy Iowa Men), participated in the National Gay Blood Drive, helping educate the public about a ban they say is discriminatory.

“We’ve come a long way in the past 30 years, we`re to the point that testing is very sophisticated. There is standard tests that are run on all of the blood and now it`s just a discriminatory ban that keeps all gay and bi men from being able to donate blood and we`re trying to raise awareness about that,” says Greg Gross with Primary Health Care.

Gross said gay men were encouraged to bring in an ally or friend to donate on their behalf.

Lysa Mozak of Johnston came to support Tyler.

“I think it`s a really great way to have a positive social justice message be out in the community and hopefully change some regulations,” says Mozak.

Everyone who showed up, signed a national petition to end the ban, and wrote personal letters to the FDA.

Tyler is hoping all of that will be enough to give equality to everyone who wants to donate.

“If I would have been able to give blood today three lives could have been saved with that, for them to know that and be able to see that, it`s huge,” says Tyler.

60 other cities around the U.S. took part in similar blood drives today.

At the end of the month a White House Petition from everyone will be turned in to the FDA. The group needs at least 100,000 signatures to get a response back.

Last year the American Medical Association voted the ban should be lifted because of the new techniques available to detect HIV in donated blood.

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