What you need to know
Many developed countries such as the US, UK and Spain all permit HIV patients to receive organ transplants to increase their survival rate. Taiwan also plans to follow in these steps in March and aims to allow HIV patients to donate their organs to other HIV patients in the future.
Translated by Shin-wei Chang
On February 3, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that starting from March, HIV patients with conditions under control can be listed as candidates for organ transplant. The Centers for Disease Control is also planning to amend the legislation in order to allow HIV patients to donate their organs under certain conditions.
According to the Department of Medical Affairs under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, originally, because of limited organ sources, HIV carriers or patients with uncontrollable infectious diseases are not allowed to receive organ transplant operations. However, as medical techniques develop, the conditions of many HIV patients have been maintained under control with tracing observation and active treatment. As a result, developed countries such as the US, UK and Spain all permit HIV patients to receive organ transplants to increase their survival rate.
After the Ministry of Health and Welfare called several meetings with associations specialized in organ transplants and HIV studies, they devised four conditions for HIV patients to become organ transplant candidates, including:
1. The patients’ CD4 index has to be maintained above 200 cells/μl for at least six months.
2. The patients have to follow their prescriptions and keep receiving HAART. Their HIV viral load should also be less than 50 copies/ml.
3. The possibility for the patients to suffer from uncontrollable or potentially fatal diseases or trauma should be eliminated.
4. After discussing with infectious disease physicians, the patients may choose to receive antiretroviral therapy after transplants.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, there are 30 thousand HIV patients, 8,500 candidates for organ transplants and an estimated number of ten eligible HIV patients.
To tally with the principle of fairness and justice, the ministry referred to the HOPE act of the US and hopes to amend the “HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act,” lifting the ban for HIV patients to donate their organs to other HIV patients in the future.
Edited by Olivia Yang