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House panel approves HIV organ donor research bill

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 5, 2013

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The House Energy and Commerce Committee adopted legislation to allow research on the feasibility and effectiveness of organ transplants from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive patients.

The HIV Organ Policy Equity Act would reverse laws enacted in the 1980s that prevent acquisition and procurement of organs from people infected with the virus. The Dept. of Health and Human Services would be required to develop guidelines for research related to organ transplants from donors with HIV. The House committee approved the bill on July 17.

The law needs to be changed because treatment for HIV/AIDS patients has improved, but now liver and kidney failure is the leading cause of death for that population, said the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Lois Capps (D, Calif.) and Andy Harris, MD (R, Md.).

“As a physician for nearly 30 years who has conducted medical research, I know firsthand how medical innovation often outpaces government laws and regulations,” Dr. Harris said. “I have also seen numerous times the lifesaving joy that an organ transplant brings to patients and their families.”

The American Medical Association expressed its support for the bill in a March 28 letter from AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD.

“By updating the National Organ Transplant Act to reflect current medical and scientific understanding of HIV/AIDS, the HOPE Act would allow research on transplant donations from HIV-infected donors to HIV-infected recipients, and eventually, if proven safe and effective, would increase the availability of organs and access to transplantation for HIV-infected patients,” Dr. Madara wrote.

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