More Organ Transplants Being Performed on People With HIV
The number of organ transplants performed on HIV-positive people is on the rise as doctors and insurance companies reconsider notions concerning the life expectancy of people with HIV, the AP/Miami Herald reports. Five years ago, physicians and insurers "routinely rejected" HIV-positive people from organ transplants because of their "lower life expectancies" and the "unproven benefits of transplant surgery in such patients." In addition, doctors "assumed" that the medication typically given to transplant recipients to facilitate the body's acceptance of the new organ would be harmful to people with HIV because they have "weaker immune systems." But the number of transplants performed on HIV-positive patients has risen over the past few years; five such transplants were performed in 1999, compared to 11 in 2000. The University of California-San Francisco Medical Center is organizing a clinical trial in as many as 15 hospitals to study the effects of transplants on people with HIV. The study -- the "largest of its kind for HIV transplant patients" -- may make insurance companies less inclined to consider the procedures experimental. Dr. Peter Stock, a transplant surgeon involved with the study, said, "In order to get insurance companies to pay, you have to show that it's safe and effective" (AP/Miami Herald, 8/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.