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Organ Transplants Successful for HIV-Positive Patients, Researchers Say
Kidney and liver transplants in HIV-positive people can work "just as well" as in HIV-negative people as long as the "tricky interaction between anti-rejection and anti-HIV drugs" is managed well, according to researchers, the Miami Herald reports. Approximately 12 transplant centers nationwide now perform transplants on HIV-positive patients. The University of Miami School of Medicine researchers who reported their findings yesterday at the XIX International Congress of the Transplantation Society in Hollywood, Fla., "cautio[ned]" that such transplants, which previously were "routinely denied," would not be successful without highly active antiretroviral therapies that "control" the virus (Lamas, Miami Herald, 8/30). According to the researchers, who studied data from several U.S. kidney and liver transplant centers and one such center in France, said that one year following a transplant, HIV-positive patients were "just as likely to survive" as other transplant recipients (Meckler, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 8/29). AIDS advocacy groups, which have "urged" transplant centers to include HIV-positive patients on their waiting lists, were "excite[d]" at the recent findings. Advocates said that while improved HIV/AIDS treatments extended the lives of HIV-positive patients, exclusion from organ transplants "allow[s] them to die of organ failure." According to study estimates, approximately 15% of HIV-positive people in the United States are co-infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, both of which can cause liver failure, and HAART can also lead to kidney failure in some patients. Most U.S. transplant centers still do not offer organ transplants for HIV-positive patients. "We regard HIV like any other co-existing disease, including cancer and heart disease. They are not accepted because they are not curable," Dr. Goran Klintmalm, director of the Baylor Institute of Transplantation Sciences at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, said, adding, "It's a terrible balancing act you have to make when you have fewer organs than you have recipients" (Jacobson, Dallas Morning News, 8/30).
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