HRC Blog

Senate Committee Clears Bill to Lift Ban on HIV Organ Donation

Today the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, S. 330.  The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tom Coburn, (R-OK), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Rand Paul (R-KY) would lift a federal ban on the donation of HIV-positive organs to HIV-positive recipients, making it possible for researchers to study the safety of such procedures.

Today, more than 100,000 patients are actively waiting for life-saving organs and about 50,000 more are added annually. Permitting organs from HIV-positive donors to be used for transplant in HIV-infected patients with liver or kidney failure could save as many as 1,000 people each year.  As organs from HIV-infected donors would only be transplanted to HIV-infected transplant candidates, the waiting time for HIV-infected people who accept HIV-infected organs would most certainly decrease, as would  the general waiting list for uninfected people awaiting transplants.

The Centers for Disease Control issued draft Public Health Service Guidelines in September of 2011 that recommended research in this area, but noted that federal law has blocked this important research from taking place in the United States. The United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the nation’s organ transplant system, and over 40 other patient and medical advocacy organizations have endorsed the HOPE Act.

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