HIV Medicine Association applauds crucial HIV/AIDS bill

The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) is pleased to see a key Senate committee putting medical care first in a new bill to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act, the federal government's largest program for uninsured or underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS.

However, the bill the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved yesterday could lead to rationing of medications unless it is funded appropriately. And it does nothing to reverse the growing shortage of qualified HIV care providers.

"Unlike 16 years ago, when the CARE Act was first written, people can live for decades with HIV--but only with the right medical care," said HIVMA Chair Daniel R. Kuritzkes, MD. "But currently the CARE Act does not give medical care the priority it deserves. This new reauthorizing bill helps to fix that problem by focusing on providing access to vital care to those in this country who, even today, aren't getting it."

Last April, HIVMA and the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) released joint recommendations designed to bring the CARE Act in line with today's HIV/AIDS epidemic, where fewer people are dying of AIDS but growing numbers are living with HIV and needing lifesaving medications and medical care.

HIVMA is pleased to see lawmakers have incorporated these recommendations into the bill. The bill, S. 2823, would require organizations receiving CARE Act funds to spend at least 75 percent on core medical services including physician's visits, medications, laboratory tests, and others--a list which very closely matches HIVMA and AAHIVM's priorities.

"Access to core medical services is one of the most important issues for patients," said Anita Vaughn, MD, an HIV physician in Newark, NJ, and chair of HIVMA's Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization work group. "But it's practically impossible to expect patients to stick to their drug therapy without managing other important issues as well, such as substance abuse and ment

Contact: Steve Baragona
Infectious Diseases Society of America

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