Taiwanese-American HIV/AIDS academic joins team

Staff Writer, with CNA

Sun, Sep 04, 2011 - Page 2

Taiwanese-American HIV/AIDS academic David Ho (何大一) is one of several overseas consultants who are helping with the treatment of the victims of a recent organ transplant scandal in which they were given HIV-infected organs, Centers for Disease Control Director-General Chang Feng-yee (張峰義) said.

“We have assembled a group of medical professionals to care for the five transplant recipients and the team members have consulted foreign experts, including Ho, on the best courses of treatment for the patients,” Chang said.

The five victims — four at National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei and one at National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Tainan — are taking post--transplant anti-rejection drugs and post-exposure anti-viral medication, Chang said.

“All the foreign experts with whom we have consulted, including Ho, agree that the anti-viral medication that we have prescribed to the five patients will not inhibit the function of the anti-rejection medication,” Chang said, adding that the therapy the patients are receiving is the most appropriate choice of drug combinations.

The five patients received organ transplants from a brain-dead HIV-positive donor on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25 and began to take preventive anti-viral medication on Aug. 26, Chang said.

“They have to take the drug combination for three months, at which point the medical team will then assess whether the drug regimen should be continued or can be stopped,” Chang said, adding that HIV infection cannot be confirmed until six months after the end of drug therapy.

Liao Hsueh-tsung (廖學聰), director of Taipei Medical University Hospital’s AIDS therapy center, said that in 2000, a patient took post-exposure anti-viral medication for nine months after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion.

The patient tested negative six months after he ended the drug regimen, he said.