From the Journals

HIV+ patients get good outcomes after kidney or liver transplant


Liver or kidney transplant recipients who are HIV-positive show outcomes that are similar to those without HIV at 15-years post-transplant, in new research that represents some of the longest follow-up on these patients to date.

The findings further support the inclusion of people with HIV in transplant resource allocation, say the researchers.

“Overall, the excellent outcomes following liver and kidney transplant recipients in HIV-infected recipients justify the utilization of a scarce resource,” senior author Peter G. Stock, MD, PhD, surgical director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program and surgical director of the Pediatric Renal Transplant Program at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), said in an interview.

“Many centers still view HIV as a strict contraindication [for transplantation]. This data shows it is not,” he emphasized.

The study, published in JAMA Surgery, involved HIV-positive patients who received kidney or liver transplants between 2000 and 2019 at UCSF, which has unique access to some of the longest-term data on those outcomes.

“UCSF was the first U.S. center to do transplants routinely in people with HIV, and based on the large volume of transplants that are performed, we were able to use propensity matching to address the comparison of HIV-positive and negative liver and kidney transplant recipients at a single center,” Dr. Stock explained.

“To the best of our knowledge, there are no long-term reports [greater than 10 years] on [transplant] outcomes in the HIV-positive population.”

Commenting on the study, David Klassen, MD, chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), noted that the findings “confirm previous research done at UCSF and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine” in 2010. “It extends the previous findings.”

“The take-home message is that these HIV-positive patients can be successfully transplanted with expected good outcomes and will derive substantial benefit from transplantation,” Dr. Klassen said.

Kidney transplant patient survival lower, graft survival similar

For the kidney transplant analysis, 119 HIV-positive recipients were propensity matched with 655 recipients who were HIV-negative, with the patients’ mean age about 52 and approximately 70% male.

At 15-years post-transplant, patient survival was 53.6% among the HIV-positive patients versus 79.6% for HIV-negative (P = .03).

Graft survival among the kidney transplant patients was proportionally higher among HIV-positive patients after 15 years (75% vs. 57%); however, the difference was not statistically significant (P = .77).

First author Arya Zarinsefat, MD, of the Department of Surgery at UCSF, speculated that the lower long-term patient survival among HIV-positive kidney transplant recipients may reflect known cardiovascular risks among those patients.

“We postulated that part of this may be due to the fact that HIV-positive patients certainly have additional comorbidities, specifically cardiovascular” ones, he told this news organization.

“When looking at the survival curve, survival was nearly identical at 5 years and only started to diverge at 10 years post-transplant,” he noted.

A further evaluation of patients with HIV who were co-infected with hepatitis C (HCV) showed that those with HIV-HCV co-infection prior to the center’s introduction of anti-HCV direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medications in 2014 had the lowest survival rate of all subgroups, at 57.1% at 5 years post-transplant (P = .045 vs. those treated after 2014).


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