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Study: Early treatment for HIV-positive people on Medicaid could cut death rate in half

Study: Early treatment for HIV-positive people on Medicaid could cut death rate in half

A study released last week by the Treatment Access Expansion Project shows that treating HIV-positive, low-income people on Medicaid before they develop AIDS complications could slash by half the death rate over the next decade for such people. Current Medicaid rules provide anti-HIV medications for Medicaid recipients only after they've progressed to an AIDS diagnosis or are considered disabled, but the proposed Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) current before the U.S. Senate would expand that coverage to include HIV-positive people who have not progressed to AIDS. The bill, sponsored by senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), also would provide additional Medicaid funds to states that invest state tax dollars in HIV treatment programs. The study, conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, found that over 10 years ETHA could reduce by 50% the death rate for HIV-positive people on Medicaid and also significantly slow disease progression and markedly improve the health of as many as 35,000 more HIV-positive people. The program also would likely significantly reduce the number of HIV-related hospital visits, emergency room visits, and need for acute care by HIV-positive people on Medicaid who currently do not have access to anti-HIV drugs. The Senate has yet to act on the legislation, which was introduced in April. The Treatment Access Expansion Project is a collaborative project of the HIV/AIDS community, health care providers, and the pharmaceutical industry.

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