President Obama signed a bill Nov. 21 that lifts the ban on research into the possibility of transplanting organs from one HIV-positive person to another. The HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act directs the Department of Health and Human Services and the Organ Procurement Transplant Network (OPTN) to develop and institute standards for research on HIV-positive organ transplantation and permits the secretary to allow positive-to-positive transplantation if it is determined that the results of research warrant such a change. 

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The HHS secretary will also be required to direct OPTN to develop standards to ensure that positive-to-positive transplantation does not impact the safety of the organ transplantation network. The act also amends federal criminal law regarding HIV transmission to clarify that such organ donations are not barred.  

The American Society of Nephrology worked with Congress and other organizations to promote the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act. This legislation, ASN said, could add up to 600 organs per year for HIV-infected transplant candidates and expand the total pool of available organs.

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"This legislation will preserve valuable organs and save lives by establishing guidelines for HIV+ to HIV+ transplants," said Michelle Josephson, MD, who leads the ASN Transplant Advisory Group.