NIAID To Study Organ Transplants in HIV-Positive Patients; Practice Becoming More Prevalent
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has begun a five-year study to examine the outcomes of organ transplants in HIV-positive patients whose organ failure often "has nothing to do with HIV" but stems from other diseases including diabetes or hepatitis, the Boston Globe reports. Federal regulators on Thursday authorized Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to begin enrolling patients for the $17 million study. The study, which will be conducted at 17 transplant centers, will involve 275 HIV-positive men and women who need kidney and liver transplants. Physicians and health insurers in the United States are increasingly more likely to perform or cover organ transplants in HIV-positive patients, which is "testament to a revolution in AIDS treatment as well as transplant medicine," according to the Globe (Smith, Boston Globe, 2/28). Attitudes about organ transplants for HIV-positive people have been changing since the mid-1990s, when advances in antiretroviral drug therapy began to help HIV/AIDS patients live longer, healthier lives. Antiretroviral drug treatment can restore patients' immune systems enough to allow them to withstand transplants and the immune-suppressing drugs that prevent the rejection of new organs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/10/03). One study, which was released three months ago, found that 87% of 24 HIV-positive patients who underwent liver transplants were still alive one year after their surgery, a survival rate that is almost identical to the results for HIV-negative liver transplant patients, the Globe reports. Dr. John Fung, transplant surgery chief at the University of Pittsburgh, which has performed more than 30 transplant operations in HIV-positive patients, said, "It's such backward thinking for people to argue that HIV patients shouldn't be transplanted" (Boston Globe, 2/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.