The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), on Thursday praised a US Senate committee for approving a bill which would allow the donation of HIV positive organs to HIV positive recipients.

The HRC applauded the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for approving the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, S 330.

The bill, which is sponsored by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers would allow organs from HIV positive people to be donated to HIV positive recipients, and more so would allow researchers to study the safety of such practice.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Senators Tom Coburn, and Rand Paul, and Democratic Senators Tammy Baldwin, and Barbara Boxer.

HRC legislative director Allison Herwitt said: “The HOPE Act represents sound public health policy… The action by the Senate HELP Committee is a major step forward in removing an outdated barrier which impedes access to lifesaving transplants for persons with HIV and AIDS.”

Senator Barbara Boxer said: “I applaud the Senate HELP Committee for approving the HOPE Act, which could save hundreds of lives a year and would give hope to patients waiting for transplants.”

Senator Tom Coburn, a physician, also commented, saying: “This legislation will allow sound science to explore organ exchanges between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients.  If research shows positive results, HIV positive patients will have an increased pool of donors.”

HIV-positive patients in the US have been lobbying for the right to receive HIV-infected transplant organs for some time. They argue that there are hundreds of HIV-infected organs available every year and that making the change would save lives and give more people the chance of a transplant.

There are more than 100,000 actively waiting for life-saving organs, and around 50,000 more are added annually, and lifting the ban could decrease waiting time for all.

Allowing organs from HIV positive donors to HIV positive recipients with liver or kidney failure could save up to 1,000 people each year.

The ban on HIV positive organ donation was put in place in 1988, and aruments for it being lifted come partly from the fact that the treatment of HIV and AIDS has advanced significantly since.

The Centers for Disease Control issued draft Public Health Service Guidelines in September 2011, recommending research in this area, but said that in the US, federal law blocks it from taking place.

Over 40 medical and patient advocacy groups endorse the act, including the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the US’s organ transplant system.