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HIV, AIDS and Other Diseases Can Spread Through Transplanted Organs

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In one of the first documented cases of its kind in the United States, a kidney transplant patient contracted AIDS from the kidney of a living donor, according to a report published in the March 18 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The male donor was tested for HIV about 10 weeks prior to donating a kidney. At that time the results were negative. Health officials believe he became infected between that test and the 2009 surgery; he reported having unprotected sex with another man during that time.

According to the CDC report, neither the donor nor recipient knew he or she had been infected with HIV until a year after the transplant.

Health officials say, perhaps the recipient developed AIDS because he or she was on drugs that suppressed the immune system to prevent organ rejection, while the donor was not. Both are undergoing HIV treatment. Their current conditions are not disclosed.

Routine screening of organ donors, which began in the mid-1980s, has made transmission of HIV through organ transplantation rare in the U.S.,” the researchers noted. “However, despite such screening, transmission of HIV can be an uncommon complication of organ transplantation and it is a public health concern.”

The CDC recommends organ donors have repeat HIV tests a week before surgery.

“Testing needs to be done as close to the time of transplant as possible,” said Dr. Colin Shepard, who oversees tracking of HIV cases for the New York City Health Department.

A similar U.S. case was reported in Orlando, Fla., last year when a woman filed a lawsuit saying she was infected with HIV through a 2007 kidney transplant from a live donor. However CDC officials say they were never asked to investigate the Florida hospital involved in the case, and therefore could not confirm the report.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm with offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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  1. Kim says:
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    It’s been 30 years. We are long overdue for a solution! Please support re:solve AIDS and the Chronic Disease Fund. resolvefromcdf.org