WEDNESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Transplant surgeons plan to meet with U.S. Congressional staff members Wednesday to push for the repeal of a law that forbids HIV-positive patients from getting organ transplants from other HIV-positive people.
If the law is changed, patients infected with the AIDS-causing virus will have more organs available to them for transplantation, advocates say.
"We want to save lives of people with HIV who may otherwise die on the waiting list for organs," said Kimberly Crump, policy officer of the HIV Medical Association, a group of AIDS doctors and researchers.
Crump said the advocates hope to encourage lawmakers to sponsor a bill calling for the law's repeal.
However, hurdles exist. For instance, questions remain about the health risks of transplanting organs between HIV-positive patients, and research is needed to make sure such transplants are safe, experts say. And some transplant surgeons refuse to perform transplants on HIV-positive patients.
Specialists, including Dr. Dorry Segev, director of clinical transplant research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, will discuss the special transplant needs of HIV-positive patients at the lunchtime meeting.
HIV-positive patients are vulnerable to a variety of diseases that can threaten their organs if their immune systems weaken. For example, they're susceptible to hepatitis B, which worsens faster in HIV-infected people than others and can lead to liver disease and the need for a liver transplant, explained Dr. Margaret Ragni, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
HIV-positive patients are also susceptible to developing kidney problems that require kidney transplants.
HIV-positive patients can receive organ transplants from people who aren't infected with HIV, but federal law banned transplants between HIV-positive patients in the
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