A U.S. House of Representatives committee this week unanimously approved a bill approving transplants using organs taken from people infected with HIV. The HIV Organ Policy Equity Act would lift a nearly 3-decade-old federal ban on such transplants and allow expanded research into the outcomes of transplant patients. Similar legislation has already passed the Senate, and the bill’s advocates say that the policy shift could save hundreds of lives each year if it ultimately makes it into law.
“The shortage of organ donations in our country is a critical matter,” said Representative Lois Capps (D-CA), who introduced the bill, in a statement. “We need to begin to research the feasibility and safety of these transplants in hopes that more people can receive transplants, and more lives can be saved.”
Congress banned transplant of HIV-infected organs in 1988, when AIDS was rapidly spreading and little was known about how to prevent and treat it. A concerted effort to lift the ban began about 2 years ago, after a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Transplantation (AJT) concluded that the ban was outdated and that these organs could help fill a gap between supply and demand.