Sunday, February 24, 2013

SF First City to Back Federal HIV Organ Transplant Bill

(Screen grab from "Sex in an Epidemic" video. Courtesy: Jean Carlomusto, via Albany Times Union.)

Last week, I stated my desire to see the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act become law because it could directly extend the lifespan and wellness of people living with AIDS, including myself and my partner Mike. That post is here.

A surprising number of ideologically diverse U.S. Senators and robust number of medical societies and AIDS organizations support the bill, but no municipal health agency was listed among the backers.

I emailed the head of my local health department, Barbara Garcia, and nudged her to take a favorable stand on the HOPE Act. A week later she had the department's Dr. Tomas Aragon, the director for population health and prevention, issue the statement I was looking for:

The San Francisco Department of Health endorses Senators Boxer and Coburn bill to lift the ban on researching organ transplantation between HIV infected individuals. This will pave the way for patients and clinicians to gain a better understanding of the safety and efficacy of transplant care in people with HIV. The SF DPH will be submitting a formal letter to the Senators acknowledging our strong support.

Thanks, San Francisco health department. Looking forward to seeing that letter to the Senators, and hope this endorsement leads to other local health agencies formally backing the proposed legislation.

The screen grab from my friend Jean Carlomusto's video is from the 1987 candlelight AIDS vigil in New York City. That year's theme was "Fighting for Our Lives", and it is theme every year including 2013 for people living with AIDS.

Support the HOPE Act, and if you're a PWA interested in signing a letter of support backing the act, please get in touch with me. The voices of PWAs need to be loud and clear fully championing HOPE.

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