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$36.4 billion a year: Cost of HIV/AIDS highlights racial and ethnic disparities

ATLANTA--The economic cost of HIV/AIDS is far greater than previously estimated, and the cost is even higher for minorities, according to a new study that estimated the direct and indirect costs of the disease. The total lifetime cost of illness for Americans newly diagnosed with HIV in 2002 is approximately $36.4 billion, of which more than 80 percent is related to productivity losses, a cost that most previous studies have omitted. The study also reveals that while the direct costs of antiretroviral therapy may be high, these costs are eventually offset by extended productivity. The research shows that differences in medical care result in dissimilar costs -- both direct and indirect -- among different racial and ethnic groups.

The study is published on-line in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS), ahead of print publication. It is the result of collaboration among researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Emory University Center for AIDS Research, and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

An estimated 40,000 people in the United States become infected with HIV each year. While researchers have previously estimated the economic costs of HIV/AIDS, they have focused primarily on the direct medical expenses of treating the disease. The results up to now have given an incomplete picture of the disease's economic consequences, according to Angela Blair Hutchinson, PhD, MPH, a health economist at the CDC and lead author of the paper.

"We wanted to assess the economic burden of an HIV infection in the U.S.," says Dr. Hutchinson, "by examining the impact of stage of disease at diagnosis and access to treatment on the cost of HIV infection and how this might differ by race/ethnicity."

The research shows that differences in medical care result in dissimilar costs--both direct and indirect for various racial/ethnic groups. "We found that direc
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University Health Sciences Center
22-Sep-2006


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