Transplant patient gets AIDS from organ
It is the first such documented case since HIV screenings began in the mid-1980s.
Last update: March 17, 2011 - 8:11 PM
ATLANTA - A transplant patient contracted AIDS from the kidney of a living donor, in the first documented case of its kind in the U.S. since screening for HIV began in the mid-1980s.
It turns out the donor had unprotected gay sex in the 11 weeks between the time he tested negative and the time the surgery took place in 2009.
In a report Thursday on the New York City case, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that organ donors have repeat HIV tests a week before surgery.
"The most sensitive test needs to be done as close as possible to the time of transplant," said Dr. Colin Shepard, who oversees tracking of HIV cases for the New York City Health Department.
U.S. living organ donors are routinely tested for infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. But the organization that oversees organ transplants does not have an explicit policy on when such screening should be done. That's left up to transplant centers.
Because of patient confidentiality, health officials released few details about the donor or recipient. Neither the donor nor the recipient knew he or she had HIV until about a year after the transplant, the CDC said.
The recipient developed AIDS, perhaps because he or she was on drugs that suppress the immune system to prevent organ rejection, while the donor did not, health officials said. Both are receiving HIV treatment.
"We don't know how frequently this is happening and we need better surveillance," said Dr. Matthew Kuehnert, a CDC official who co-wrote the report.
Health authorities spent months investigating whether the transplanted kidney was the source of the patient's AIDS infection. Genetic analysis of the virus confirmed investigators' suspicions.
CDC officials recommend a HIV test developed in the 1990s that is more sensitive than traditional testing. The more sensitive test can detect HIV within 10 days after the person is first infected. An older test won't detect antibodies to HIV until three to eight weeks after infection. Yet the older tests are more commonly done.