Science & Tech

Medicaid coverage for anti-AIDS drugs would be cost effective

1 min read

Study shows benefits of treating HIV-infected before they get sick

It’s long been said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” A new study from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis applies the principle to treating HIV-infected people with antiretroviral drugs, the so-called “AIDS cocktail.” Under Medicare rules, people without health insurance can’t get treatment until they develop full-blown AIDS and become disabled by their illness. But a study by Bruce Schackman, Sue Goldie, Milton Weinstein, Elena Losina and Kenneth Freedberg finds that it’s cost effective to treat HIV-infected people before they develop complications from AIDS. “Adding coverage will increase costs in the near term,” lead author Schackman says. “But these findings provide a strong argument that Medicaid money to help people who are HIV-infected can be better spent if the program is adjusted to include coverage for the uninsured before they get sick.” Schackman has since moved to the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The study was funded by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Library of Medicine and by cooperative agreements with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.