• Deceased donor transplantation;
  • high-risk donor;
  • HIV;
  • NAT;
  • organ utilization

Fears of infectious transmission from CDC high-risk donors (HRDs) remain a significant disincentive, and the potential for human immunodeficiency virus/hepatitis C virus (HIV/HCV) nucleic acid testing (NAT) to allay these fears remains unstudied. We hypothesized that NAT, which narrows the window period between infection and detectability compared to the standard ELISA, might lead to increased provider willingness to use HRDs. Between January and April 2008, we performed two national surveys: one of current NAT practice among organ procurement organizations (OPOs); a second of HRD use among transplant surgeons. Surgeons who reported accepting 10% or more offers for a given HRD behavior and organ type were classified as ‘high utilizers’ of that subgroup. We built hierarchical models to examine associations between OPO NAT performance and provider utilization. Providers who ranked medical risks of HIV or HCV as important disincentives to HRD use had significantly lower odds of being high utilizers (HIV odds ratio 0.22, HCV odds ratio 0.41, p < 0.005). Furthermore, both HIV and HCV NAT performance were associated with significantly higher odds of being high utilizers (HIV odds ratio 1.58, HCV 2.69, p < 0.005). The demonstrated associations between OPO NAT performance and high provider utilization of HRDs should be considered in the ongoing debate about NAT in transplantation.