Bill Lifting Ban on HIV Organ Donation Heads to President Obama for Signature

by HRC Staff

The HOPE Act eliminates barriers to life-saving medical care for people living with HIV and AIDS


Washington, D.C.– The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – is praising the passage of bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives that lifts the federal ban on the donation of HIV-positive organs to HIV-positive recipients. The HOPE Act passed the Senate earlier this year and faced no opposition. The bill now heads to President Obama to sign into law.

“The bipartisan passage of the HOPE Act will fundamentally improve the quality of healthcare available for people living with HIV and AIDS,” said Allison Herwitt, HRC’s Vice President for Government Affairs. “By removing these antiquated barriers to transplants, the lives of hundreds of people living with HIV and AIDS can be saved each year.”

The HOPE Act enjoyed bipartisan support in both chambers - in the Senate it was introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Rand Paul (R-KY), and in the House, Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA) and Andy Harris (R-MD) were the lead cosponsors. 

Currently, 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. 

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 worked closely with leaders in both the House and Senate on the introduction of the HOPE Act, and served as a co-leader of the broad coalition including HIV/AIDS organizations, patient advocacy groups, and medical professionals, urging Congress to pass the legislation.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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