Born with HIV in 1984, Lamont Valentin died December 3 on a New York City bus on his way home from a doctor’s appointment. As a result of numerous AIDS-related pulmonary infections as a child, he was in need of a double lung transplant.
Although there is no federal or New York State law forbidding lung transplants to people living with HIV, Valentin was denied the procedure by New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to a blog post by Tim Horn, HIV project director at the Treatment Action Group. Other institutions outside the state offered to put him on their wait lists, but his New York public insurance carrier would not allow it. Since various guidelines contradict each other on whether people living with HIV should receive transplants, the decisions to allow the procedures are made by specific institutions.
In response, activists from ACT UP New York, Occupy Wall Street, Streetworks and others rallied December 11 holding a banner reading “No X-mas for Lamont” near the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza, Al Jazeera America reports. More than 100 activists and the Valentin family, including his wife Lah-nah and their 2-year-old son, were seeking state legislation they called “Lamont’s Law” to forbid automatic denial of transplants for people living with HIV.