Friday, March 18, 2011

Staying Aware - AIDS

2011 and the Center for Disease Control reports that The New York State Department of Health is recommending a shorter HIV and hepatitis screening window and nucleic acid testing (NAT) for living organ donors following a recent HIV transmission from a kidney donor to a recipient in New York City. The advisory also urges hospitals to question living donors about risky behaviors, including injection drug use. This is the first documented case of HIV transmission by way of a live-donor transplant since improvements in the screening process were initiated in 1985, said a health department spokesperson. The hospital, which, in the interest of patient privacy, the spokesperson declined to identify, followed appropriate protocols in screening the kidney donor. However, the donor apparently had unsafe sex after testing and before surgery to harvest the organ. “Of course this is a rare case, but we felt like we needed to alert centers to this possibility so they can talk to potential donors about risks and do testing closer to the time of surgery,” the spokesperson said. The advisory calls for HIV and hepatitis B and C testing to be performed within 14 days of living-donor donation using NAT, which can detect virus antibodies weeks to months before standard blood tests. NAT is not recommended for organs from deceased donors due to time constraints, as organs soon begin to deteriorate. Infectious disease screening has virtually eliminated HIV transmission through donated organs, blood or tissue. CDC’s most recent HIV-specific organ donation screening recommendations were issued in 1994; updated guidelines from the agency are expected this year.
It was 1981 when the first cases of what is now known as AIDS were reported in the U.S. During the 1980s there was a rapid increase in the number of reported AIDS cases and AIDS deaths. The lack of knowledge had many people fighting to isolate the people with the disease. As the cases grew from gay men to women, children,seniors and drug abusers the debates were intense. It was brutal.

Somewhere between then and now efforts to manage the disease have improved yet it is not good enough. Yes, I said it! It was during the 1980's that my brother contracted the disease through a blood transfusion from the place where one goes to be made well - the hospital. Surprisingly, the screening for HIV/AIDS was not enforced at that time. Many families lost their loved ones due to contaminated blood. Unfortunately, that was then and is in no way acceptable now. Not with the advances made through the awareness and fundraising campaigns, not with the powerful support of the celebrities or even most importantly, the researchers/scientists who have developed drugs to maintain the disease while working to find the cure - NO!
We must be ahead and proactive in taking the precautions, leading confidently, being the exemplar of delivering medical care. The old proverb 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' is oh so true and appropriate in everything especially - health.


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  2. Hopefully soon found an HIV vaccine. In order to be used immediately to prevent additional people with AIDS. We must help each other and care for HIV.

  3. We are hopeful that progress will continue and that it will be accessible to all.