Higher Kidney Transplant Success Rate for Patients with HIV Versus Hepatitis C

While less than 25% of centers in the United States offer kidney transplants to those infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), those patients are proving to have better outcomes than others following the surgery.

While less than 25% of centers in the United States offer kidney transplants to those infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), those patients are proving to have better outcomes than others following the surgery.

Lead Author Deirdre Sawinski, MD, and her colleagues from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania examined kidney transplant cases where the patients either had HIV, hepatitis C, or both. In total, the team reviewed 124,035 adults who had a transplant between 1996 and 2013.

The study, published in Kidney International, noted that in order for an HIV-positive individual to qualify for a kidney transplant, they have to have an undetectable viral load — a requirement that is not applied to hepatitis C patients.

The data indicated that 89% of the HIV patients survived to the 3 year mark, which is close to the 90% of the uninfected group who made it to that point as well. The survival rates for patients with hepatitis C and both diseases were 84% and 73% respectively.

“These findings show that HIV patients are being unfairly perceived to have worse kidney transplant outcomes than non-infected groups, and as a result, they often have to wait the longest for transplants and there are fewer living donors,”Sawinski explained in a news release.

Even though fewer HIV patients receive kidney transplants than those with hepatitis C or who are not infected at all, they are showing positive results.

“Our hope is that these study findings result in greater access to transplantation for HIV patients, while also inspiring the kidney transplant community to focus on eradicating Hepatitis C in transplant patients — either pre-transplant or if that’s not possible, immediately post-transplant — to ensure better outcomes for these patients,” Sawinski said.