Perceptions, motivations, and concerns about living organ donation among people living with HIV

Sarah E. Van Pilsum Rasmussen, Macey L. Henderson, Juli Bollinger, Shanti Seaman, Diane Brown, Christine M. Durand, Dorry L. Segev, Jeremy Sugarman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Recent changes to United States law now permit people living with HIV (PLWH) to donate organs to HIV-infected (HIV+) recipients under research protocols. PLWH may have unique motivations for and concerns about living donation and understanding them is critical to ensuring the integrity of this novel approach to organ transplantation. We conducted in-depth interviews with PLWH from an urban HIV clinic who had previously indicated their willingness to be a living donor. Interviews elicited information on their motivations, perceived benefits, and concerns regarding living donation. Codes were identified inductively and then organized into themes and subthemes. Two coders independently analyzed the interviews and reconciled differences in coding by consensus. Thematic saturation was reached after 20 interviews. Motivations for living donation among PLWH included an altruistic desire to help others as well as HIV-specific motivations including solidarity with potential recipients and a desire to overcome HIV-related stigma. Perceived benefits of living donation included gratification from saving or improving the recipient's life and conferring a sense of normalcy for the HIV+ donor. Concerns about donation included the possibility of a prolonged recovery period, organ failure, and transmission of another strain of the virus to the recipients. PLWH had unique motivations, perceived benefits, and concerns about living donation in addition to those previously identified in the general population. These unique factors should be addressed in research protocols, informed consent processes, and the education and training of independent living donor advocates so that these endeavors are ethically sound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1595-1599
Number of pages5
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2 2018


  • People living with HIV
  • ethics
  • living organ donation
  • organ donation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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