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At two years, HOPE Act still offering hope

Two years since its implementation, the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (also known as the HOPE Act) has continued to provide transplant opportunities for candidates with HIV who are willing to accept organ offers from HIV-positive donors.

As of November 20, 2017, 34 transplants had been performed at six hospitals participating in HOPE Act protocols.  This included 23 kidney transplants and 11 liver transplants, involving organs from 14 deceased donors.

“This is a significant advance in organ donation and utilization,” said Cameron Wolfe, M.D., chair of the OPTN/UNOS Ad Hoc Disease Transmission Advisory Committee.  “While the early trend in transplants remains somewhat modest, people living with HIV are able to be organ donors, where for decades they were prohibited from doing so.  I have worked with patients who feel empowered by the idea of one day being a donor for another person living with HIV.  And transplanting organs from these donors into HIV-positive candidates also means more organs from HIV-negative donors are available for HIV-negative recipients.”

The HOPE Act, signed into law Nov. 21, 2013, called for the use of organs from HIV-positive donors for transplantation into HIV-positive candidates under approved research protocols designed to evaluate the feasibility, effectiveness and safety of such organ transplants. The provisions of the Act were made effective on Nov. 21, 2015.

As of November 20, 2017, 22 transplant hospitals have enrolled with the OPTN to participate in HOPE Act research, and approximately 200 candidates are currently listed as consenting to receive organ offers from HIV-positive donors.

Any participating hospital must conduct transplants under IRB-approved research protocols conforming to the Final Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act Safeguards and Research Criteria for Transplantation of Organs Infected with HIV, which were developed by the

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the National Institutes of Health.

Organ procurement organizations are able to run matches for HIV-positive donors. The only candidates who will appear on match runs for these donor offers will be those listed at transplant programs that have an IRB-approved protocol, and whose HIV status and willingness to accept an HIV positive kidney or liver has been confirmed.

“The transplant community is closely monitoring outcomes of these transplants, both to ensure the safety of patients involved and to see whether their transplant outcomes are similar to recipients of HIV-negative organs,” said Dr. Wolfe. “This information will help the transplant community understand the impact of using HIV-positive donor organs and how we can help patients make decisions that offer them the most benefit.”

Learn more about the HOPE Act and related OPTN policy.