Podcast

Episode 2: The March for Science and DO Day on Capitol Hill

This week on Diagnostocracy, Ti and Keifer welcome students Jennifer Fields and Jesse Aquino to review the March for Science and the inevitably partisan role of science in politics. Jennifer and Jesse then discuss their experience advocating health policy while at DO Day on Capitol Hill earlier this month.

4 replies »

  1. Do you have transcript for show? I am deaf and want access to discussion please. Many people are left out of this that could benefit or contribute to discussion. Please be less audio-centric. Thank you.

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  2. Thanks for discussing the efforts of medical students in overturning the lifetime deferral of blood donations from men who have sex with men. Although it was an important and evidence-based health policy change, I wanted to clarify that the “ban” was not completely lifted. The updated qualification to donate states that “male donors previously deferred because of a history of sex with another man, even one time, since 1977, may be eligible to donate provided that they have not had sex with another man during the past 12 months and they meet all other donor eligibility criteria.” So, essentially what this means is that a man who is in a monogamous relationship with another man (including married and HIV/AIDS negative) would have to refrain from sex with their partner for 12 months in order to donate blood. Last year when I was involved with the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents, we discussed this issue at length at the national level. The question that was left on the table – Is a blood donation really worth giving up that important aspect of a healthy relationship? Was this health policy change a true win, or did it still alienate this minority population?

    For the record, ALL blood donations are screened for HIV, so regardless of who someone has sex with, their blood is being screened. http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/donation-faqs

    Here are the updated Guidelines from the FDA – https://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/Blood/UCM446580.pdf

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    • Thanks for clarifying that, Shawn. Was a conclusion reached at the COSG meeting?

      Although this isn’t truly a win for health policy, I still think it’s a step in the right direction. I highly doubt progress will stop here. Millennials are bringing in this new culture of acceptance and/or tolerance of differences, so I think expanding the scope of who can donate blood will be picked up in that tide. Of course, this can be true only if we’re saying that there is a social – not medical – reason that blood banks won’t take blood from homosexual men. I think we pretty much exonerated the idea that there is a medical reason. As you pointed out, ALL blood donations are screened. Additionally, both heterosexual and homosexual individuals can contract HIV, so you really have to wonder why there is a bigger hurdle for homosexual people to jump over.

      And to sort of answer your question “is a blood donation really worth giving up that important aspect of a healthy relationship?”, I feel like that’s a personal choice, which will vary on a case-by-case basis.

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