From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Statement on Introduction of Early Treatment for HIV Act

February 26, 2004

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Richard Gephardt today reintroduced the Early Treatment for HIV Act with a bipartisan group of more than 70 original cosponsors.

Although effective drug treatments have improved both the health and quality of life for thousands, many uninsured and underinsured Americans still do not have access to these life-saving medications because HIV-positive individuals generally do not meet Medicaid requirements until they are disabled by full-blown AIDS. This bill will allow low-income individuals living with HIV to qualify for Medicaid coverage earlier in the course of their disease.

"Early treatment for HIV infection saves lives and reduces health care costs as progression from HIV to full-blown AIDS is prevented or delayed," Pelosi said. "Forcing people to wait for health care until their immune system is compromised by AIDS is indefensible. The law must be changed to eliminate barriers to early drug therapy."

A recent analysis prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that passage of this legislation will both improve the health of people with HIV and save taxpayer dollars.

Congressman Gephardt said: "Improving the quality of life for those with HIV is a moral issue that our country must address. The Early Treatment for HIV Act will go a long way toward that end, and I will continue to work with Leader Pelosi to guide this important legislation through Congress."

The Early Treatment for HIV Act is modeled after the successful Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment and Prevention Act of 2000, which allows states to provide early access to Medicaid to women with breast and cervical cancer. Even in these difficult fiscal times, 49 states have implemented this initiative.

"New infections, combined with a decline in AIDS deaths, mean that more people than ever are living with HIV and AIDS," Pelosi said. "While we must intensify our prevention efforts, including education about behavioral risk and research for a vaccine, we must also respond to the growing demand for HIV care. We urge our Congressional colleagues and President Bush to join us in this effort."




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