Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), a cosponsor of the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (HOPE Act), today around 5:00 p.m. will speak on the House floor in favor of the bill to end the federal ban on research into organ donations from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients. The Senate passed the HOPE Act by unanimous consent in June.
"Our bill opens the door of hope to thousands of HIV-positive patients whose survival depends on life-saving organ transplants," said Norton. "Today, we are routinely saving lives only to lose HIV/AIDS patients to liver and kidney failure, ironically caused by the medications that saved their lives. Why even research on infected organs was originally banned I do not understand, but the way out of this conundrum is to set science free to do the needed research and rigorous evaluation."
Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be permitted to evaluate any advances in the state of medical research into HIV organ transplants, and if the research demonstrates such a transplant could be safely performed, HHS could direct the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network to establish transplant procedures. The current ban was enacted in 1988, when very little was known about the HIV virus, in order to ensure that organs from HIV patients were not given to non-HIV patients.