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AIDS patients were not put into consideration in the past because of the limited number of organs. Now they are eligible for transplants and if everything is prepared, the policy will be implemented by the end of this year.
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Human rights of AIDS patients in Taiwan are making huge progress. The Taiwan Organ Registry and Sharing Center (TORSC), the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have reached a consensus to include HIV-infected people into organ transplantation waiting lists. The new regulation will be announced by the end of the year and implemented by 2016. HIV-infected people can soon be the same as other patients and receive organ donation as long as they manage their health conditions well.
UDN reports, Wang Zong-xi, the director of the Department of Medical Affairs (MOHW), says that according to the current regulations, patients of AIDS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) and other uncontrollable infections cannot receive or donate organs. But along with medical improvements, AIDS treatment has made great progress. If the HIV-infected people continuously receive treatment and regular follow-up examinations, the viral load will be reduced.
In order to enhance the human rights of domestic AIDS patients, TORSC discussed with AIDS experts and physicians and has proposed to the MOHW to amend related regulations, hoping to include AIDS patients with low viral load into the organ transplantation waiting list.
ETtoday reports, TORSC Chairman Lee Bo-zhang says so far less than ten patients nationwide are waiting for organ transplant. In the past, as the immune systems of AIDS patients grow relatively weaker, the repressive medication taken following the transplants will lead to deterioration in their health or even accelerate their death.
Recent US research discovered that the survival rate of AIDS patients is no different than normal patients, so they propose to MOHW to amend related prohibitions after several meetings.
China Times reports, this is not only the milestone for the rights of AIDS patients but also an indicator of an advanced country. Chairman of the Division of Infectious Disease under NTUH (National Taiwan University Hospital) Hung Jian-qing says patients that have their disease under control don’t get infected easily due to low viral activity and comprehensive protective measures. So far, the U.S. and South Africa have already allowed AIDS patients onto the transplantation waiting lists. The U.S. is even amending laws to allow AIDS patients to donate organs to each other.
On September 9, the Department of Medical Affairs under MOHW responded to the news, saying that the department will summon medical meetings concerning transplant guidelines of the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas, cornea and small intestines respectively. Wang says that considering effectiveness, AIDS patients were not put into consideration in the past because of the limited number of organs. Now they are eligible for transplants and if everything is prepared, the policy will be implemented by the end of this year.
So far the AIDS patients who need organ transplantations are mostly also dialysis patients in Taiwan. Storm Media reports, Lee Bo-zhang says the HIV-infected transplant recipients need to fulfill four main conditions:
1. Their CD4 must be over 200 (CD4, a type of lymphocytes, the number of CD4 over a certain number shows the immune system of the patient is strong enough).
2. The patients must undergo treatments for over six months.
3. The HIV load must be lower than 50 for six consecutive months.
4. The patient must be clear of uncontrollable cancer or severe infectious diseases to be on the waiting list.
As for HIV-infected people to donate their organs to other infected people may also be allowed. The current consensus of the experts is to consider allowing HIV-infected people under good control to donate to other HIV-infected people under good control. Deputy Administrator of the CDC Zhuang Ren-xiang says, they are still collecting opinions from related organizations, and after having adjusted the content, the HIV-infected people who could not donate their organs can donate to other HIV-infected people with their consent. If everything goes smoothly, the bill is expected to be sent to the Legislative Yuan as soon as next year.
Speaking of how healthcare workers can avoid getting infected while performing surgeries of organ donation, Lee Bo-zhang says doctors will avoid getting hurt and blood infection while performing surgeries. Besides, the infected donation receivers must have minimal viral load and low risk, and the training of healthcare workers is sufficient enough for them to protect themselves.
In addition to AIDS, in accordance with current regulations, some infected people with certain diseases are still not allowed to donate organs in Taiwan. Diseases that are forbidden from donating organs include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and HIV+ people. Diseases that cannot receive donations include those who are not cured from tuberculosis, AIDS patients, those who have malignant tumors, those who are not suitable for heart transplant, those with mental retardation, people who cannot work with long-term medical treatment and patients addicted to drug or alcohol.
Translated by June and Vic
Edited by Olivia Yang