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Viruses, ethics & organs: a timeline

August 1986
Two US men acquire HIV after receiving organs from an auto-crash victim. The donor had tested antibody-negative.

June 1995
Baseball legend Mickey Mantle stirs ethical controversy when he receives a liver transplant after cirrhosis brought on by alcoholism, as well as Hepatitis C infection.

December 1995
AIDS treatment activist Jeff Getty receives a successful baboon bone marrow transplant. He dies 11 years later of heart failure at age 49.

December 1998
Alan Hext becomes the first person with HIV to receive a liver transplant, followed several years later by outspoken AIDS activist Larry Kramer.

September 2005
California enacts a law to prevent insurance companies from denying funding to people with HIV seeking transplants.

February 2007
Italian doctors transplant kidneys and a liver from a woman who later turned out to be HIV-positive after her medical records were marked incorrectly.

November 2007
Media reports that four patients in Chicago acquired HIV and Hepatitis C from organs harvested from a gay man. One says she wasn’t made aware of the risk, sues the hospital.

January 2008
Health Canada admits to a policy implemented the month before that “excludes from consideration” the organs of men who’ve had sex with men in the past five years, current inmates or anyone who spent more the three days of the past year incarcerated, anyone who has done sex work in the past five years, and all nonmedical IV drug users.

Sources: CBC, CNN, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Reuters, Poz Magazine