Some HIV-positive patients who need organ transplants want to circumvent long waiting lists by being allowed to accept organs that are infected with the virus.
The New York Times reports on the push to allow the transplants from HIV-positive donors to patients who need organs. Currently, under a 23-year-old amendment to the National Organ Transplant Act, it is illegal to transplant organs from HIV-positive donors, even to recipients who also have the virus.
According to a new study, 500 to 600 HIV-infected livers and kidneys could become available each year if the law were changed. The donated organs would help HIV-positive patients who are living longer but suffer kidney and liver problems, often linked to their long-term treatment.
"The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies are about to issue new guidelines that will encourage a first step: research involving transplanting H.I.V.-positive organs into H.I.V.-positive people. That would require the transplant ban to be lifted," reports the Times.
Some concerns about the transplants involve the possibility of an HIV-positive donor who has a tougher strain of the disease than the recipient or the possibility that infected organs could be transplanted by mistake.
The only known organ transplants between HIV-positive donors and recipients have occurred in South Africa, according to the Times, and so far, those transplants have been successful.