The HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, signed into law last month, updates existing organ transplant law restricting the donation of organs infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Now, those organs can be transplanted into individuals who are infected with such virus before receiving such an organ and who are “participating in clinical research approved by an institutional review board under the criteria, standards, and regulations regarding organs infected with HIV developed under this Act or, if participation in such research is no longer warranted, receiving a transplant under such standards and regulations.”

This year’s changes were prompted by a 2011 paper published in the American Journal of Transplantation by Johns Hopkins transplant surgeon Dorry L. Segev, MD, PhD and colleagues, which argued that “HIV-infected deceased donors represent a potentially novel source of organs for HIV-infected transplant candidates that could decrease waitlist deaths and even shorten the national waitlist.”

“We expect hundreds of lives to be saved every year because of [the new law],” said Segev, an associate professor of surgery and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “For many years, we have been forced to forego perfectly transplantable organs. Now we can give patients with HIV the opportunity to live longer and better lives by transplanting these organs. It will be a profound change.”