Five people who received organ transplants from an HIV-positive donor in 2011 will soon be asked to decide whether they wish to stop preventive therapy after receiving more than 18 months of treatment, a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) official said on Sunday.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said the centers will form a panel of local and foreign experts to discuss whether the patients should continue preventive therapy, although the final decision will be made by the patients.
Chou said the discussions are being be held after 18 months of treatment because in similar cases, patients who took preventative anti-HIV drugs were treated for that period of time.
National Taiwan University Hospital will respect the patients’ decisions, regardless of what they choose, said Hung Chien-ching (洪健清) of the hospital’s infectious disease department.
Hung said the five patients were given anti-rejection drugs and antiretroviral drugs after the transplants and, so far, all five have tested negative for HIV.
On Aug. 24, 2011, National Taiwan University Hospital staff unwittingly transplanted the liver, lungs and kidneys of a HIV-positive donor to four patients. The fifth recipient, a patient at National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Greater Tainan, received the donor’s heart.
Hung cited the recent case of a girl in the US who was born HIV-positive, but was functionally cured of the virus after being treated for nearly 18 months immediately after her birth. The baby’s mother chose to stop giving her medication after that, he said.
Media reports say that when the girl was examined five months later, she was free of the active virus and has remained so ever since.
Hung said that the viral load in the girl’s blood was about 19,000 per cubic centimeter and that the viral load in the Taiwanese HIV-positive donor’s blood was less than 10,000 per cubic centimeter.
In another similar case, a patient in Germany was found to be free of the active HIV virus after undergoing a bone marrow transplant, Hung said, adding that though there are only two such cases so far, they are significant.