January #31 : Second-Class Organs

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Table of Contents

Michael Jeter Takes on Hollywood

Bastard Nation

The Eyes Have It?

Their Own Private Africa

Supreme Indecision

Come Together, Right Now

Over My Dead Body

What a Riot

All About Colleen

Barred and Dangerous

Second-Class Organs

Loaded News

Up All Night

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Do the White Thing

Go Fish

The Reconstruction Era

ICAAC: Pros and Cons

Simply Undetectable

One Singular Sensation

Mind Your ZZZs and Snooze

Ad Fib

Italian Yeast Fighter

Not Tonight, Honey

What Did I Do Right?


Miss Diagnosis

Cyber POZ: TPAN Alley

Let the Sunshine In

Lady Bunny

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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January 1998

Second-Class Organs

First-ever transplants for PWAs

After a persistent press for organ equity by ACT UP/Golden Gate, the University of California/San Francisco fired up the nation’s first transplant program for HIV patients. "It’s a decision based on science to benefit population that deserves transplantation," said Dr. John Lake, medical director of the program. "What prompted it is that the outlook and prognosis for people with HIV has radically improved." To be eligible for a transplant, one must have a disease with a 70 percent survival rate over five years, Lake said. But is there an AIDS-phobic-tinged hitch? PWAs get only unwanted, "high-risk" organs – from alcoholics, gay men, prisoners or the promiscuous.

"Donating organs is a very touchy-feely thing," said Dr. Steven Rudich of the University of California/Davis. He frets that anti-AIDS prejudice could provoke a decline in donations. "Many people still think of giving organs to a PWA as a waste. Donors could start specifying, ‘I don’t want my loved one’s organs to go into a patient with HIV.’" While Lake knocked such fears as "nonsense," he noted the special risk the gift of life poses: The immune system has to be suppressed after transplantation to prevent organ rejection – a dicey prospect for PWAs.

Jeff Getty, yesterday’s AIDS poster boy following his own baboon bone-marrow transplant, said the alternative to that risk has too often been death. "A friend needed a heart, and because he had HIV, doctors wouldn’t even screen him. I couldn’t bear to watch him die," said Getty, the point man in ACT UP’s organs-into-HIVers mission. "People who give organs give then out of love, not hatred." The first transplants are likely to be liver or kidney. According to Lake, the University of Pittsburgh is the only other transplants center providing for PWAs, although the University of Pennsylvania and Michigan are looking at the UCSF policy.

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