New HIV Testing Urged for Organ Transplant Donors

Following the <"">transplant of an HIV-infected kidney in a recent live organ donation surgery, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that HIV tests be conducted on live donors within one week prior to surgery, said The Associated Press (AP).

A patient in New York City was just infected with the AIDs virus following a recent kidney transplant, making the defective surgery the first confirmed case in the United States in about 20 years, added the AP. Although AIDS/HIV surgical transmissions are rare, the CDC points out that there is no strict policy in place for AIDs testing of live transplant donors, the AP explained.

This particular case involved a male donor who was tested for HIV about 10 weeks before donating a kidney, said the AP, adding that those test results came back negative; however, health officials believe the man was infected with the virus somewhere between that test and when the surgery took place in 2009. The man reported having unprotected sex during that time frame.

The name of the New York City hospital involved has not been released, said the Wall Street Journal, which said that the hospital tested the donor 79 days prior to the surgery. Of the three major Manhattan transplant centers, Mount Sinai Medical Center confirmed that it was not involved, wrote the Journal. A spokesman for New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said, “We don’t have any information about this,” quoted the Journal. The New York University Langone Medical Center responded that it would be “inappropriate” to comment.

The HIV diagnoses were discovered about one year after the transplant, which is when both the donor and recipient—whose details, including their relationship, have not been released—learned that they have the disease, said the AP. Both are undergoing treatment.

“We don’t know how frequently this is happening and we need better surveillance,” said Dr. Matthew Kuehnert, a CDC official who co-authored the report, quoted the AP. The report will be published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Another case in the U.S. case involved a Florida woman who filed a lawsuit in 2010 alleging she was infected with HIV from a 2007 kidney transplant, said the AP. CDC officials say they have not been asked to look into the case and cannot confirm the report, explained the AP, which also added that another case was reported in 1989 in Italy.

While living donors are screened, as are organs received from deceased donors, for a number of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, HIV testing only began in 1985, said the AP. Also, live kidney donations have increased in frequency in recent years with about 32 percent of kidney transplants coming from live donors in 1988 and 46 percent last year, said the AP, citing federal data.

The CDC’s 1994 guidelines for organ donor screening are being revised, but never covered screening test timing in the past, said the Journal, which also said the Center recommends that a test be mandated that detects HIV within eight-to-ten days of infection.

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