HIV-positive patients in the US are lobbying for the right to receive HIV-infected transplant organs. They argue that there are hundreds of HIV-infected organs available every year and that making the change would save lives and give more people the chance of a transplant.
The campaign is supported by some medical professionals, who say there is no reason why an HIV-positive person cannot receive an HIV-positive organ.
Under the National Organ Transplant Act, it is illegal to transplant organs from HIV-positive donors.
Many HIV-positive people suffer from kidney damage, which can be caused by the virus or by HIV medicine.
Dr Dorry Segev, transplant surgery director of clinical research at Johns Hopkins, told the New York Times: “The clock is ticking more quickly for those who are HIV-positive.
“We have a huge organ shortage. Every HIV-infected one we use is a new organ that takes one more person off the list.”
Dr Segev co-authored a study which claimed that 500-600 HIV-infected livers and kidneys would become available for transplants every year if the law was changed.
The newspaper reported that federal health agencies are to issue new guidelines to encourage research into HIV organ transplants. The move would require a change in the law.
Transplants of HIV-infected organs to HIV-positive people has taken place in South Africa and are believed to have been successful.
There is some concern about donor organs which have different strains of HIV to recipients but doctors are confident that issues can be avoided by screening out the weakest patients.
Doctors even believe that HIV-infected organs could be given to HIV-negative recipients. Dr Segev and Dr Matthew Kuehnert, who directs the CDC’s Office of Blood, Organ and Other Tissue Safety, say that in future, doctors could decide that a seriously-ill patient would be better off living with HIV than suffering kidney or liver failure.