Many people living with H.I.V. are living long enough to suffer kidney damage, leaving them needing to have organ transplants, although the waiting lists for organ donations are often incredibly long.
With organs becoming less available, there is an alternative for H.I.V. patients to receive viable ones from a new set of donors: other H.I.V. patients. However, such an option is not even offered, because it is illegal under federal law to transplant organs from donors who test positive for H.I.V.
The New York Times reported federal health officials and other medical experts are asking for repeal of the amendment to the National Organ Transplant Act, the provision that bans organ transplants from those with H.I.V. The measure was passed at the peak of the AIDS scare in 1988, when the disease was first associated with immediate death.
But many people with H.I.V. are living longer lives and adding to the already high demand for organs. Some health authorities believe H.I.V-infected organs should be made available for organ transplants, particularly with patients who have the virus or possibly even some without H.I.V.
“The clock is ticking more quickly for those who are H.I.V.-positive,” said Dr. Dorry Segev of Johns Hopkins. “We have a huge organ shortage. Every H.I.V.-infected one we use is a new organ that takes one more person off the list.”
While many may be concerned that such transplants could be harmful to a patient, a large clinical trial found that H.I.V. organ recipients “just as good as H.I.V.-negative patients, more or less.” Just last year, about 179 H.I.V.-positive patients received new livers or kidneys.
Having an additional supply of organs from H.I.V.-positive people would also be a huge source for the 110,000 individuals in America in need of an organ transplant.
All New York locals can consider becoming an organ donor to help those awaiting an organ transplant. To learn more information about organ donation and being a donor, visit the Related Resources links below.