HIV Organ Donation
Barack Obama signed the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, or HOPE Act, ending a decades-long ban on the transfer of HIV-positive organs to HIV patients. The legislation directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) to develop standards to make these transplants possible.
“For decades, these organ transplants have been illegal. It was even illegal to study whether they could be safe and effective,” Obama said. “But as our understanding of HIV and effective treatments have grown, that policy has become outdated. The potential for successful organ transplants between people living with HIV has become more of a possibility.”
The Need for More Research ----->
Now that the research door is open, Horberg said, researchers and specialists can begin to actively work on HIV-infected organ donations.
“There needs to be a mechanism where patients can donate an organ to another HIV patient where the risk of transmission is minimized,” he said. “Without a legal mechanism, we could not come up with answers to these questions.”
Kidney failure and liver failure are common in people who have had HIV/AIDS for many years. This is because of the destructive nature of the virus, co-infections, and the side-effects of certain medications. With the HOPE Act signed, it is estimated that up to 1,000 HIV patients' lives can be saved a year.
In order to undergo an organ transplant, a patient's HIV must be under control (something that wasn't possible when the procedure was first banned)—the same way a common cold would delay an otherwise healthy person from donation or receiving an organ.