blood donation

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Activists across the nation are hosting the first-ever gay blood drive today in an effort to raise the ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men.

Intravenous drug users can donate blood after a one-year waiting period, so why can’t gay and bisexual men? That’s a question that baffles activists and scientists alike. Since 1977, the Food and Drug Administration has mandated that blood donation centers ask prospective male donors if they’ve had sex with a man. If the answer is yes, the man is deferred, meaning he’s not allowed to donate blood—ever.