Why doesn’t the U.S. government provide everyone with treatment for HIV/AIDS?

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nomi king 6 months 1 Answer 104 views

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  1. Healthcare in America is a twisted, and curving path that doesn’t usually make much sense. In the case of HIV/AIDS, this concept can be seen over and over again. So just to be clear, let’s cover a little ground so we are all on the same page of thought. The acronym AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is defined by the diseases that show up after the collapse of someone’s immune system. Every situation has a beginning, and AIDS also has an origin point inside a human body. It began about ten years earlier when a high risk event occurred and our body came in contact with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). That high risk event facilitated an exchange of body fluid (like what is possible with sexual contact or intravenous drug use), and then HIV takes up living inside of us. Over many years the immune system slowly becomes overwhelmed by HIV. Without treatment, HIV will cause the collapse of the immune system. Once that collapse occurs, the human body has no control over the many different infectious agents that cause disease. But the simple fact is that the U.S. government, nor any other person, government or corporation, has the power to cure AIDS. Only the power to limit the damage that HIV has in causing a collapse of the immune system is available to us as treatment.

    The U.S. government is very interested in stopping the spread of HIV through prevention efforts. And it is especially important for people to begin early treatment, because early treatment decreases the risk of transmission. Many different things have been tried over the years since the 1990’s. Some of those efforts have been pretty successful too. HIV screening and follow up tests are available free of charge all across the country, but not universally available. Many local public health departments, in the county where we live, can tell us how to find an HIV screening without cost. Expansion of HIV screening efforts are being funded by the U.S. government, as defined by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy that was implemented in 2010 and then revised in 2015.

    Many States did not approve the expansion of Medicaid when it was offered through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). A significant number of those States who did not expand Medicaid, have the highest levels of HIV transmission and new HIV diagnosis and the highest percentages of their resident population who are uninsured for healthcare services.

    Lastly, there are many cities and towns that have established clinics that will provide testing, plus treatment, of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). And that includes HIV care. Often, those services are funded through that State’s Medicaid system and that clinic will help us manage our HIV care without charge. It is an injustice that HIV care is not universally available to everyone in the U.S. especially when prevention is so very important.

    Prevention is both protecting people’s lives and reducing the cost that long term HIV care has upon the U.S. economy. This is another one of those twisted stories of U.S. healthcare. The successes of prevention efforts will always be reduced when the conversation includes that people who are in treatment for HIV are at a very low risk of passing it along, and those who are not in treatment will have the highest rates of transmission. It doesn’t make any sense at all that HIV care isn’t universally available, to every citizen in the U.S., regardless of how the cost is paid. But until there is a minimum level of healthcare, guaranteed as a citizen’s right by the U.S. government, there will always be places in the U.S. that HIV screening, and long term HIV care, will not be available unless the cost for those services are paid by the individual.

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