HOUSTON -- Opponents of a federal ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men are demonstrating around the country.

Evan Clayson believes donating blood is an important cause.

I grew up in a family where my parents would donate regularly, Clayson said.

However, Clayson is unable to donate blood because of his sexual orientation.

The FDA said its policy is based on the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex.

All we can do is tell the donors that those are the regulations, said Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center employee Dr. Beth Hartwell. It's what we have to follow.

Clayson disagrees with the ban.

There is an obvious discrimination within their regulations, Clayson said.

In the national gay blood drive, potential donors who are gay men are tested for HIV first. Their test results then forwarded to the FDA hoping to show how many more donors could be out there.

The goal is to show the U.S. Food and Drug Administration how much donor blood could be added to the nation's supply if gay and bisexual men could donate. That population faces an indefinite or lifetime deferral on blood donations.

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