HRC Lauds Early Treatment For HIV Act Reintroduction

The Human Rights Campaign lauded the February 8th reintroduction in
the Senate of the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA), a measure that
would allow states to extend their Medicaid funds to low-income people
living with HIV.

"Low-income Americans should not have to be diagnosed with AIDS before
they get the drugs that can delay AIDS in the first place," said David
M. Smith, HRC's Vice President of Policy and Strategy. "This bill would
solve that life-threatening problem."

ETHA is modeled after the highly successful and bi-partisan Breast and
Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000 (BCCA), which
similarly provided states with the option to provide care and treatment
to women diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer through publicly
funded screenings.

The Treatment Access Expansion Project (TAEP) retained
PricewaterhouseCoopers to assess the effects of early health care access
under ETHA. The study found that ETHA delays disease progression,
increases life expectancy and is cost effective. The study's findings
include:

  • Over 10 years, ETHA would reduce the death rate for persons with HIV
    who would qualify for Medicaid by 50 percent.

  • Over 10 years, disease progression would be significantly slowed and
    health outcomes improved.

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  • If a 10-year time period is considered for each ETHA participant,
    including those who enter the program in later years, Medicaid offsets
    alone reduce gross Medicaid costs by 70 percent, accounting for $1,472.6
    million in unrecognized savings.

Access to HIV therapies reduces the amount of HIV virus present in a
person's bloodstream, a key factor in curbing infectiousness and
reducing the ability to transmit HIV. A recent study published in the
magazine AIDS in 2004 found that HIV therapies reduce infectiousness by
60 percent. The study confirmed that early access to HIV therapies as
provided under ETHA is an important HIV prevention tool.

"We laud Senators Gordon Smith and Hillary Clinton for leading efforts
to pass this important bill," added Smith. "We'll continue to work
alongside our allies in ensuring that every American has access to
HIV/AIDS prevention tools as well as health care that would help delay
the onset of AIDS and adequately cover treatment for AIDS."

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