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Since the 1980s, there has been a confirmed report of a deceased donor's organs spreading the AIDS virus. That happened in Illinois in 2007, when organs from a 38-year-old gay man went to four recipients.
For many years, transplant organizations focused heavily on screening organs taken from the dead, which accounted for the large majority of transplants. But kidneys from live donors are becoming increasingly common. In 1988, about 32 percent of kidney transplants came from live donors. By last year, it was more than 46 percent, according to federal data. Donors generally are relatives or friends.
About 88,000 people are on the kidney waiting list right now, according the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit organization that manages the nation's organ transplant system for the federal government. The group is developing new nationwide policies for live donors, spokesman Joel Newman said.
Transplant centers have teams that evaluate potential donors and look for physical or psychological red flags. But some would-be donors may find themselves in a quandary: They want to save a loved one's life but are unwilling to reveal that they use drugs, have gay sex or engage in other behavior that raises their risk of HIV.
Some donors may assume they will be tested for every important kind of infection, and think it doesn't matter whether they disclose their risky behavior, Kuehnert said.
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.
CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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