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Call To Let HIV Patients Donate Organs Gets Guarded Response

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An exhibit in center city showed the impact of HIV on Philadelphia's population. (Credit: Karin Phillips)

An exhibit in center city showed the impact of HIV on Philadelphia’s population. (Credit: Karin Phillips)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new study suggests changing organ transplant laws so that donors infected with HIV could give their organs to patients with HIV. Local stakeholders view the recommendation with caution.

A 1984 federal law bans transplanting organs from HIV positive donors, but the study notes that, since then, HIV has become a manageable medical condition — not the death sentence it once was — and among those who have it are both patients in need of organs and those who could donate organs, except for their infection.

The study suggests easing the need for organs by lifting the ban.

Kevin Burns of ActionAIDS called the proposal “promising” with a caveat, “I think we need to go slowly enough to be sure that we’re not re-infecting folks with a different mutation of the virus. That is a concern.”

Similarly, Howard Nathan, of Philadelphia’s Gift of Life organ donor program, said more research would have to be done.

He said he thinks there are better solutions, “There’s a lot more opportunity for potential donors from patients who don’t have any type of disease; right now we need more people to say yes to organ donation.”

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060

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