As the U.S. health care landscape potentially changes, leading HIV/AIDS policy experts say renewed investment in the federally-funded Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) is critical for continued progress in improving the health of people with HIV, preventing the transmission of HIV to others and reducing health care spending. In a new report, “The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program: Protecting and Advancing HIV Public Health Gains During Health System Reform,” authors from leading HIV/AIDS organizations explore the significant positive role RWHAP has played in advancing research, prevention, care, and treatment of HIV and AIDS. For example:
- “As many as 83 percent of Ryan White clients are virally suppressed compared to only 30 percent among all people living with HIV in the US,” says Sean Bland, an associate at the O’Neill Institute. Viral suppression is a clinical measure indicating HIV treatment is working.
- The report states that “roughly seven in ten HIV transmissions arise from persons diagnosed with HIV who are not receiving regular HIV care.” The Ryan White Program bolsters efforts across the health system to engage people with HIV in regular HIV care.
“At a time when policy makers are looking for ways to reduce national health spending, we need to recognize success when we see it,” adds Jeffrey S. Crowley, program director of infectious disease initiatives and distinguished scholar at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law. The estimated medical cost saved by avoiding one HIV infection is $229,800. “In 2014, there were 8,500 fewer HIV infections than in 2008. That difference in annual infections alone will result in $2 billion in less national health care spending. If these trends of fewer infections continue, the savings to the nation will grow exponentially,” he adds.