MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

House passes legislation to improve HIV patients' lives

The U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation on Tuesday that would eliminate restrictions on acquiring HIV-positive organs for research on transplants involving HIV-positive individuals.

S. 330, the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, which is also known as the HOPE Act, advanced through the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July as H.R. 698. The legislation is supported by multiple medical organizations, including the HIV Medicine Association, Dialysis Patient Citizens, American Society of Nephrology, United Network of Organ Sharing, American Society of Transplantation and American Medical Association.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the new bill could save up to a thousand lives annually.

"By passing the HOPE Act now, we will send it directly to the president so that he can sign it into law and avoid a conference," Upton said. "This common sense proposal has the potential to save lives. With 100,000 patients waiting for life-saving organs, permitting HIV positive donors to be used for transplants could save as many as 1,000 HIV infected patients every year. Today, we provide some hope to those in need of a new organ."

In March, James Madara, the executive vice president and CEO of the American Medical Association, said the legislation represents an important step forward in addressing growing needs among HIV-positive patients.

"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," Madara said.