HOPE; HIV Organ Policy Equality ActLast night the Senate took a giant step forward in helping HIV-positive individuals receive lifesaving organ transplants, when it passed the HOPE (HIV Organ Policy Equity) Act by unanimous consent. The measure would lift a federal ban on organ donation from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients, making it possible for researchers to study the safety of such procedures. If research demonstrates that such donations should proceed broadly, it would increase the number of healthy organs available for transplantation in people living with HIV and AIDS, and reduce the wait time for all organ recipients.

We applaud the bipartisan leadership of Senators Boxer (D-CA), Baldwin (D-WI), Coburn (R-OK) and Paul (R-KY)  for understanding the critical need for this legislation and working closely with the HIV/AIDS, medical, and LGBT communities to find a workable solution which will aid thousands of Americans and reduce health care costs.

The HOPE Act directs the Department of Health and Human Services and the Organ Procurement Transplant Network (OPTN) to develop and institute standards for research on HIV-positive organ transplantation and permits the Secretary to permit positive-to-positive transplantation if it is determined that the results of research warrant such a change.  The Secretary would be required to direct OPTN to develop standards to ensure that positive-to-positive transplantation does not impact the safety of the organ transplantation network.

HRC is one of the co-leads of the coalition that began meeting with Senate and House offices last summer to educate staff and members about the need to update the federal organ transplantation law to be consistent with today’s medical and scientific knowledge about HIV/AIDS.  Now that the measure has cleared the Senate, we will increase our focus on the House, where bipartisan support continues to mount behind the measure sponsored by Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA) and Andy Harris (R-MD). Stay tuned to HRC Blog for updates on House action.

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