March 17, 2011 / 6:25 PM / 7 years ago

U.S. reports 1st HIV case spread by live organ donor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York man has contracted the AIDS virus in the nation’s first case of transmission from a living organ donor since a screening test was implemented to prevent such infection, the New York State Department of Health said on Thursday.

The recipient of a live kidney transplant in a New York City hospital tested positive for the HIV virus, department spokeswoman Claudia Hutton said.

While screening was properly conducted, the donor apparently contracted the virus after the screening test but in the days before the surgery, she said.

“In the intervening time from initial testing, the donor engaged in some risky behavior and contracted HIV,” Hutton said. “The donor and the recipient are now aware of it and how it happened.”

Screening of organ donors went into effect in 1985 at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the United States to guard against HIV transmission during a transplant. The New York case marks the first time since then that a recipient has contracted HIV from a live organ donor, Hutton said.

The name of the hospital, donor and organ recipient were withheld to protect their privacy.

In response, the state Health Department has recommended that live organ donors undergo a second round of blood tests within a 14-day period before the transplant operation. The department advises that hospitals conduct a nucleic acid test, which can detect viruses long before standard tests.

“We are also strongly advising that donors have to be cautioned to not engage in risky behaviors,” Hutton said.

More than 110,000 Americans are waiting for organ transplants, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit organization that works for the federal government to manage the nation’s organ transplant system.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV every year.

Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr.; Editing by Xavier Briand

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