People affected by HIV can safely receive a kidney transplant, according to the results of a study conducted by the University of California in San Francisco (United States), published in the latest issue of 'The New England Journal of Medicine' . The finding is good news for AIDS patients, who are more likely to develop kidney disease, in part because of the side effects of the drugs they need to take to control HIV infection.
After drug "cocktails" turned HIV from a "death sentence" to a chronic disease, patients became "ineligible" to receive a kidney, as specialists feared that immunosuppressant drugs necessary to avoid rejection of the new organ interfere with the action of control of the antiretroviral virus.
"But now they can, the survival of the patients and the grafts are really good and they are close to those shown by the general population," says the study's director, Dr. Peter Stock.
To arrive at this conclusion, the American scientists studied the evolution of 150 patients from 19 US hospitals. that were followed for three years after receiving the transplant. In total, eleven of the 150 participants died after the transplant, although the deaths were caused by heart problems, non-transplanted kidney cancer and pulmonary or bacterial infections. Thus, they found that the survival of the transplanted reached 95 percent in the first year and 88 percent at three years. Ninety percent of the transplanted kidneys functioned normally after one year, a percentage that dropped to 74 percent at the conclusion of the study.
The rejection rates are higher, but acceptable
However, not all news is good for HIV patients, since the rejection rates were two to three times higher than normal, a fact that has "surprised" the researchers. "These data should not be dramatized, since you can work to reverse them," says Stock, who notes that "it is known that each rejection takes a little life from the remaining kidney, something that in the case of patients with HIV would mean giving them , instead of 20 more years of life, maybe 15, a very important figure. "
In addition, he added, there has been no evidence that the transplant process causes a rebound in AIDS, even though the number of white blood cells had been reduced initially. "HIV simply does not progress, a phenomenon that has already been observed in liver transplants," Stock adds.
Reuters / EP