California Governor Signs Historic HIV Bill

Dr Peter Stock

California Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) has signed a bill allowing organ transplants between HIV-positive individuals. Senate Bill SB 1408 was authored by Senators Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), and co-sponsored by organizations including Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles, The Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Positive Women's Network-USA. The bill passed California legislature unanimously, and now places California in line with federal law regarding HIV-positive organ transplants.

"There is no reason for state law to maintain an antiquated prohibition on organ donation by HIV-positive persons.  By expanding the pool of organ donors, we will shorten the time for all persons on the organ donor waiting lists, and save lives in the process." Senator Allen commented in a press release announcing the passage of the bill. California previously banned transplants between positive individuals, a move that followed the 1988 Organ Transplant Amendments Act, an effort by federal legislature to prevent the entry of positive organs into the organ transplant system for fear of infecting negative individuals.

"It should not be a crime to save someone's life, yet current law criminalizes the donation of HIV-positive organs to HIV-positive recipients," said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.  "There are currently HIV-positive people in California waiting desperately for an organ transplant.  This is the first step in what we hope will be a number of measures to modernize California's antiquated laws that harm and stigmatize people living with HIV."

This breakthrough comes only a month after the first successful HIV-Positive organ transplants at Johns Hopkins Medical Hospital, the first of such transplants since 2013, when the HOPE (HIV Organ Policy Equity) Act was passed by Congress in 2013.

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