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      Valley gay rights activists want blood donation ban lifted

      The local gay community says "enough is enough" when it comes to a longtime ban on gay men donating blood.

      They say openly gay men have always been denied as blood donors due to a regulation from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

      The agency currently prohibits gay men from donating blood due to concerns about HIV and sexually-transmitted diseases.

      But with a nationwide shortage of donated blood, a group of Senators in Washington DC is looking to rethink that policy.

      They say that gay men are no longer the highest group with HIV infection.

      Eli Olivares with the McAllen Chapter of the Stonewall Democrats says he favors lifting the ban.

      Olivares told Action 4 News that he and other gay men who are HIV negative and STD-free should be able to donate blood just like everyone else.

      The McAllen activist said he supports lifting the ban.

      Action 4 News spoke with United Blood Services in McAllen.

      They said all donors are given questionnaires to determine risk and that they screen all blood donations for HIV.