AHF: Senate Democrats Allow HIV Testing To Be Stripped From Stimulus
"It is disappointing that this money, which will create jobs, and save billions in medical costs, is currently not part of the Senate version of the bill," said Tom Myers, AHF's General Counsel. "What is particularly dismaying is that people have been allowed to attack this provision as immoral or promoting immorality, and no one has stood up to explain why this is good stimulus, and good policy."
"The stimulus part of the testing proposal is quite simple: Increasing HIV testing means increasing jobs. It means increasing the number of nurses in emergency rooms, who are needed to do the tests. It means jobs on the production lines of the test makers, who are in America.
"And, unlike other stimulus, testing not only creates jobs, it not only prevents people from becoming infected, it saves money. The lifetime medical cost for a person with HIV is about $600,000. Most of the AIDS infections in this country come from people who don't know they have it. If we increase the number of people who know they have HIV, there will be fewer infections. We proposed that spending $300 million on increasing HIV tests would prevent enough infections to save over $3.6 billion," said Michael Weinstein, AHF's President.
Under AHF's proposal, $300 million would be spent over the next two years to purchase the kits, and hire the staff, to do three million tests. This would identify approximately 60,000 people with HIV who do not know they have it. A study produced by the National Institutes of Health found that, when a similar number of people became aware of their status, it resulted in 6,000 fewer infections. At $600,000 in lifetime medical costs for each HIV infection, that saved $3.6 billion.
"There is no other stimulus proposal that will create jobs, will prevent infections of a potentially fatal disease, and will also save many times its original outlay. AHF will not allow this provision to be the victim of culture war demagoguery, and will continue advocating for its inclusion in the stimulus," added Myers.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest AIDS organization. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 95,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at http://www.aidshealth.org
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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