Canadian activists at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City said August 5 that many hospitals in their home country deny people with HIV/AIDS from receiving life-saving organ transplants, The Globe and Mail reports.

While there is no specific rule barring positive people from transplants, Curtis Cooper, MD, told the newspaper “in practice it's next to impossible to get it done in Canada.” Cooper added that a majority of liver transplants are now done on people living with hepatitis B or C, many of whom are co-infected with HIV.

According to Cooper, many surgeons incorrectly believe that people with HIV/AIDS are poor candidates for transplants because organ recipients must take immune-suppressing medications. However, studies show that the drugs have been proven to have no ill effects on positive people. Countries such as the United States, Britain, Spain and France have been performing organ transplants on people living with HIV for more than a decade.