Oregon Public Broadcasting

Dozens of gay men tried to donate blood at the American Red Cross center in Portland Friday, as part of a nationwide protest.

They want to change the U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy that bars gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The FDA says the precaution is due to the fact that men who have sex with men might be carrying HIV.

Portland State University student Alex Horsey was one of those turned away.

"It makes me feel like a second class citizen. My blood is just as valuable as anybody else's. But because of my sexuality I can't help people and I want to save lives and I should be able to," Horsey said.

Horsey says heterosexuals who are highly sexually active aren't similarly screened, even though they're at high risk for HIV.

The FDA says the policy is needed because while the HIV test is accurate, it can't detect infection one hundred percent of the time.

The Red Cross issued a statement saying the policy should be modified so it's more rational and scientifically-based.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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