Statement by ARCW President and CEO Michael Gifford on the First Successful Organ Transplant between People Living with HIV in the United States

MILWAUKEE… A team of doctors at Johns Hopkins completed the first organ transplant in the United States using organs donated by an HIV-positive person. The successful transplant of a liver and a kidney from the donor to two separate HIV-positive recipients was announced March 30, 2016.

ARCW President and CEO Michael Gifford issued the following statement in light of this development:

“These successful procedures give hope for a longer, healthier life for people with HIV who are in need of an organ transplant. Unfortunately, too many people with HIV lose their lives while waiting for an organ, and they do so more quickly than their HIV-negative counterparts on the same waiting lists."

“Not only does this mean more organs will be available for HIV-positive individuals, it also means more organs will be available in general, helping to alleviate some of the time spent on waiting lists by patients in need of donated organs."

“While these transplants mark incredible medical advancements for people with HIV, the fact remains that too many people with HIV struggle to access the basic care and treatment they need. This is apparent given the fact that only one in three people with HIV in America has an undetectable viral load and less than half are regularly engaged and receiving primary and HIV health care."

“People living with HIV still face great barriers to care because of stigma and discrimination based solely on their HIV status. Sadly, ARCW has learned of multiple cases of discrimination based on a person’s HIV status just this year, including an instance where a physician denied care to one of his patients who has HIV."

“Helping patients overcome these barriers and achieve outstanding health outcomes – 88% of ARCW patients are managing their HIV as well as possible – while addressing stigma and discrimination using all means available to us will remain central to the work we do at ARCW."

“We have made great progress in the fight against AIDS, yet with record numbers of people with HIV in need of care and hundreds of new HIV infections in Wisconsin every year, we still have more work to be do.”