Organ donation and transplantation between HIV-positive people is now legal in the state of California.

On May 27, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1408, a new piece of legislation that protects surgeons who transplant organs from HIV-positive donors into HIV-positive patients from being penalized by the state’s medical board. President Barack Obama’s HOPE Act technically reversed the federal ban on this procedure back in 2013, but as Medical Daily previously reported, there’s been a delay in uptake. Apparently the National Institutes of Health needed time to “properly iron out the act’s guidelines,” so up until now in California, doctors were criminals and even faced jail time if they condoned HIV transplantation and donation, Tech Times­ reported.

Why was there a ban in the first place? In part because HIV/AIDS was once a deadly disease doctors knew little about. Not to mention the virus had been transmitted in “a number of patients with solid-organ transplants,” Dr. Peter Stock, of the University of California, San Francisco, told NPR. Some doctors were also afraid that the immunosuppressive drugs given to transplant recipients would cause more damage to patients’ immune systems already compromised by the disease.

This reality has changed, though, thanks to new technology and treatment. Recent studies show transplant success rates are not much different in HIV-positive and negative patients, and in South Africa, there’s proof; doctors have been successfully transplanting HIV-positive organs since before the United States started to move toward change, NPR reported.

"We now have the green light and we can start doing transplants using HIV-positive donors,” Stock said in a statement. “Next week, we will start screening the list. We have a few people we know about who are anxious to move forward.”

The surgeons at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore had a similar feeling in March when they were approved to conduct the first HIV-positive organ transplant in the U.S. Dr. Dorry Segev, an associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, told NPR that both HIV-positive and negative patients would benefit from the ban reversal when it comes to the organ transplant waiting list.

“Imagine now we take hundreds or maybe thousands of people off of the list, then everybody behind them moves forward,” he said. “So people with HIV are benefited directly and everybody else on the list is benefitted indirectly. And we’re all very excited to get started.”

Of the 120,892 people in need of a lifesaving organ, 77,830 are active waiting list candidates (as of this writing), according to The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). And every 10 minutes, someone new is added to the list, with HIV-positive people bearing a greater burden of kidney and liver failure. Compare these numbers to the little more than 5,000 donors, and it’s easy to see we’re amid an overall shortage of organs available for transplants despite a banner year for donation in 2015.

One organ donor can save eight lives, the OPTN said, and this new legislation is the kind of progress the agency calls for to ensure all candidates have a chance at a new life.