UPMC ‘Forging Ahead’ in Medical World Through Study on Liver Transplants for HIV-Positive Patients, Editorial States
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's liver transplantation program has always "been about ... taking risks and betting against the odds," and the program's decision to participate in a study on liver transplants for HIV-positive people is just an example of this philosophy, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial states. However, the question of whether liver transplantation for HIV-positive people should be "common" should not depend on how well "high national visibility" candidates such as playwright and ACT UP founder Larry Kramer -- who is currently awaiting clearance to receive a liver transplant -- respond to the transplant procedure. "It should rather be a question of whether, in general, the immunosupression drugs needed to inhibit organ rejection will accelerate the progression of AIDS," the editorial states. Noting that routinely providing liver transplants for HIV-positive people may result in "scarce livers" being transplanted into patients "who cannot survive long despite the gift," the editorial continues, "With the need for organs greatly outstripping the availability, the thought of giving a liver to a person with a very limited life span raised serious ethical questions." However, the editorial states that "it is a risk worth taking" because HIV-positive people may end up benefitting greatly from liver transplants. "Experimentation is necessary to improve techniques and expand the pool of people who can be helped. ... It's a difficult line to walk, but Pittsburgh, and the medical world, are lucky that UPMC has had the courage to forge ahead," the editorial concludes (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.