A bill signed by President Obama Thursday promises to improve the health of people with HIV by allowing for organ transplants from one HIV-positive individual to another. The bill, called the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, overturns a long-standing ban that prevented HIV-positive people from receiving organ transplants or HIV-positive people from making organ donations.
“Improving care for people living with HIV is critical to fighting the epidemic, and it’s a key goal of my National HIV/AIDS Strategy,” the president said in a statement. “The HOPE Act marks an important step in the right direction”
The bill passed both the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support, a rarity in today’s polarized Congress. Under the measure, the Department of Health and Human Services will conduct research to establish standards for HIV-positive organ transplants. Assuming the research supports transplants, the HHS Secretary can approve their implementation.
Because people with HIV are living longer, they are experiencing an increased need for organ transplants. Currently, they are only able tor receive organs from HIV-negative donors. Supporters of the law believe that allowing for HIV-positive transplants will shorten the waiting time for organs and potentially save the lives of 1,000 people waiting for liver and kidney transplants.