WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – On Thursday, President Barack Obama signed into law a piece of legislation that lifts a current ban on transplanting organs infected with the human immunodeficiency virus.
According to the official White House website, the signing of the “HIV Organ Policy Equity Act” will not only establish “criteria and quality standards for the research and transplantation of such organs,” but will also allow “an exception to a Federal criminal prohibition on the knowing donation or sale of HIV infected organs.”
Transplants would only be permissible between patients already infected with HIV, The Verge is reporting.
Officials from the American Society of Transplantation lauded Obama’s signing of the law, also referred to as the HOPE Act, in a press release.
“The HOPE Act is a common sense policy proposal that will improve the lives of many patients in need of organ transplants,” Dr. Dan Salomon, president of the American Society of Transplantation, was quoted as saying. “The nation’s transplant community is grateful that the House of Representatives and Senate have now both passed this vital legislation.”
Salomon added, “The AST and its thousands of professionals worldwide strongly support this legislative proposal allowing for greater use of life saving donor organs and much-needed research in the area of HIV organ donation and transplantation.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, HIV could be spread through organ transplants.
“Less commonly, HIV may be spread by … [r]eceiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV,” they note on their official website. “This risk is extremely small because of rigorous testing of the US blood supply and donated organs and tissues.”
CDC officials additionally noted in their recently released progress report that they have had mixed success in regards to AIDS awareness prevention. More people have been tested and more know about their infection, but no change in estimates of new HIV infections each year.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the bill was first introduced to the Senate in February of this year, with bipartisan backing.
“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,” HRC officials additionally noted. “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.”
They added, “In addition, the Act amends federal criminal law regarding HIV transmission to clarify that such organ donations are not barred.”
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