Press Room

March 12, 2007

Category: HIV & AIDS

Early Treatment For HIV Act Reintroduced

WASHINGTON - Today, Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., reintroduced the Early Treatment for HIV Act, a bill that will save lives by allowing states to provide Medicaid coverage to low-income, HIV-positive Americans.

Currently a person with asymptomatic HIV infection is not eligible for Medicaid until he or she has progressed to AIDS. Without Medicaid coverage, many low-income Americans are left without the critical care and medication needed to help slow the progression of the HIV. Only after developing AIDS does Medicaid coverage become available.

"Americans should not have to be diagnosed with AIDS before they get the drugs that can delay AIDS in the first place," said Solmonese. "It is time for Congress to pass this common-sense legislation that would save countless lives. It is absolutely unfortunate there are still Americans who are not able to access life-saving medication to combat HIV/AIDS."

Providing treatment for those who are HIV-positive early in the progression of the disease is not only cost-effective, but has numerous health benefits and will improve the quality of life for countless HIV-positive individuals, helping them live longer, happier and more productive lives.

The Senate unanimously passed ETHA as an amendment offered by Smith to the budget reconciliation package in November 2005. However, the provision was stripped out in conference committee.

"We applaud Senators Gordon Smith and Hillary Clinton for their tremendous leadership in expanding access to care and treatment for low-income Americans living with HIV/AIDS," added Solmonese. "We look forward to continuing to work with Senators Smith and Clinton and our allies to ensure that every American has access to HIV/AIDS prevention tools as well as healthcare that would delay the onset of AIDS and treat the disease."

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.