Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the committee. Baldwin praised her colleagues for their support of the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE Act) in today's HELP Committee executive session. Baldwin is an original cosponsor of the bipartisan bill with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Rand Paul (R-KY).
"I am proud to have worked across party lines on this important issue. The HOPE Act is a bipartisan, commonsense bill that reflects the progress we are making in medicine, as well as in breaking down the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS," said Senator Baldwin. "By allowing us to move forward with this critical research, the HOPE Act will help decrease the organ wait-time, save countless lives and reduce health care costs in the long-run."
The HOPE Act lifts the current ban on medical research of HIV positive organs and provides for a study on the safety and effectiveness of HIV positive to HIV positive organ donation by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). The bill directs the Secretary to establish guidelines for researchers and to regularly review the results of the research.
If the Secretary determines the results of the research warrant changes to the organ transplant system to allow for HIV positive to HIV positive organ donation, then she would direct the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network to revise their standards, while ensuring that the change does not impact the safety of organ transplantation.
"It is vital that public health law reflects sound and current science," said John Fangman, MD, Medical Director of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. "We have learned much about HIV/AIDS and the HOPE Act ensures that medical science -- not outdated stereotypes -- is driving critical policy related to organ transplant. "The HOPE Act will improve access to needed organs for both HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients and has the potential to save money by reducing the cost of dialysis and other services needed to support patients who are waiting for life saving organ transplants."
The HOPE Act is supported by the American Medical Association, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the American Society of Transplantation, and 40 LGBT health, HIV/AIDS, transplant, and medical stakeholders.