Major New Research Estimates Cost of Lifetime AIDS Care at $618,000

Press Release November 12, 2006
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Roseanne Scotti at (609) 610-8243

Trenton–“The Lifetime Cost of Current HIV Care in the United States,” a major new study appearing in the November 2006 issue of Medical Care, projects the cost of treatment for HIV-infected adults is now $618,900 per person (using current standards of care), a significant increase from previous estimates.

The recently estimated monthly medical cost for people with HIV, from the time of beginning appropriate care until death, is $2,100 on average. Seventy-three percent of the cost is antiretroviral medications, 13% inpatient care, 9% outpatient care, and 5% other HIV-related medications and laboratory costs. The projected life expectancy for these individuals, if they remain in optimal HIV care, has now increased to 24.2 years, leading to the overall increase in healthcare costs for an infected individual.

“Reducing these costs to take into account the fact that they will occur in the future, the projected lifetime cost per person at the time of entering optimal HIV care is $385,200 and the treatment expense that can be avoided by preventing each HIV infection is $303,100,” said lead author Dr. Bruce R. Schackman, Chief of the Division of Health Policy in the Department of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College.

There are currently approximately 32,300 people living with HIV in New Jersey. More than half of them became infected due to the sharing contaminated needles. Given the estimated lifetime cost of care for someone living with HIV, New Jersey has spent, and will continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on medical costs to treat injection-related HIV infections that could have been prevented by access to sterile syringes.

“Restricting access to sterile syringes is not only bad public health policy, it is bad economic policy. Research on the cost effectiveness of syringe access has consistently shown that not only does syringe access save lives–it saves money,” said Roseanne Scotti, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. “At a time when the state is struggling to fund necessary social programs and provide property tax relief to New Jerseyans, it behooves us to implement effective HIV prevention. By removing the legal barriers to sterile syringe access, New Jersey will reduce the spread of HIV, while simultaneously saving the state and taxpayers money. The time for the legislature to act on syringe access legislation is now.”

Life-saving legislation aimed at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other blood borne diseases is now pending before the New Jersey State Legislature. Senate Bills 494 and 823 and their companion bills in the General Assembly, Assembly Bills 1852 and 2839, would prevent the spread of blood borne diseases by allowing municipalities (at no cost to the state) to establish syringe access programs and permitting the sale of limited numbers of syringes without prescriptions in pharmacies.

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