The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed with bipartisan support the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act. Senator Tammy Baldwin, who is a cosponsor of the bill, praised the vote and her colleagues. Baldwin was joined in supporting the bill by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Rand Paul (R-KY).
Baldwin stated that “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. 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 would lift the current ban on medical research of HIV positive organs, and would also provides for a study on the effects and effectiveness of HIV+ to HIV+ organ donation by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebilius. It would also direct Secretary Sebilius to establish guidelines for researchers and to have any resultant research reviewed on a regular basis.
The bill then allow the HHS Secretary to change policies on organ transplant if it is deemed viable to do HIV+ to HIV+ organ donation and direct the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network to revise their standards so as not to change the impact on the safety of organ transplantation.
Doctor John Fangman, the medical director of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, stated “It is vital that public health law reflects sound and current science. We have learned much about HIV/AIDS and the HOPE Act ensures that medical science – not outdated stereotypes – is driving critical policy related to organ transplant.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 American Medical Association, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the American Society of Transplantation, and 40 LGBT health groups along with others support the bill.
HIV+ to HIV+ means HIV Positive person to HIV Positive Person.