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Gilead Sciences on Tuesday announced that it is expanding and simplifying its U.S. patient assistance program, called "Commitment to Access," that provides access for patients who have limited payment options to Gilead medications free of charge. The redesigned program now enables HIV-positive people who meet program criteria to access antiretroviral medications on the same day they visit their physician and receive a prescription. While the patient assistance program has traditionally allowed prescribing physicians to make referrals to the program, it has now been expanded to enable allied health care professionals to serve as patient advocates and also make referrals. In addition to physicians, patients can work with nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, case managers, and social workers to gain access to the program. Drugs covered under the program are the HIV nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor Viread, the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor Emtriva, the AIDS-related cytomegalovirus retinitis treatment Vistide, and the hepatitis B treatment Hepsera. "The redesign of 'Commitment to Access' reflects our dedication to ensuring that people living with HIV have the most rapid access possible to Gilead antiretroviral medications," said John C. Martin, Gilead president and CEO in a press release. "Expedited access to therapy is especially important in the field of HIV, where patients are often not diagnosed until they are quite ill. 'Commitment to Access' helps ensure patients face fewer delays in accessing potentially lifesaving medication."