Brian Richard Wlosinski, OMS III, was tired of seeing his friends get left out of school blood drives. They wanted to donate but were barred from doing so because of the Food and Drug Administration’s longstanding ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men, enacted in 1983.
Wlosinki paired up with Whitney J. Fix-Lanes, OMS IV, to write a resolution calling for the AOA to stand with the American Red Cross and other public health organizations in supporting an end to the FDA’s blanket ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. Yesterday, the AOA House of Delegates passed the resolution.
“This is a health care policy that affects our patients,” said Fix-Lanes, the House delegate from the Student Osteopathic Medical Association, which submitted the resolution. “And there is a limited blood supply. Eliminating this ban could potentially increase the number of blood donations available.”
The policy also hurts those who are excluded, said Wlosinski, who attends Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pa.
“As DOs, we take care of our patients’ mind, body and spirit,” he said. “What does it do to someone’s spirit when they are told their blood will never be good enough to be donated?”
Kyle Derouen, OMS II, spoke at the National Osteopathic Student Caucus Wednesday night about his own run-ins with the policy.
“As a gay man myself who has experienced this form of discrimination, it’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to people like me,” said Derouen, who attends the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Both Derouen and Wlosinski noted that public opinion on homosexuality has shifted rapidly. The FDA’s current policy is not only scientifically invalid but also socially outdated, Wlosinski said.
“We as a profession need to say that this is not acceptable in the modern era,” he said.