Congressman Eliot Engel, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have reintroduced the Early Treatment for HIV Act, a bipartisan bill that will save lives by allowing states to provide Medicaid coverage to low-income, HIV-positive Americans.

The bill was introduced with 54 original co-sponsors evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

The legislation addresses a cruel irony in healthcare coverage for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS.

Despite the fact that Medicaid is the largest single provider of HIV/AIDS care in the United States, currently most adults with HIV are not eligible for Medicaid until they have progressed to full-blown AIDS.

Without Medicaid coverage, many low-income Americans are left without the critical care and medication needed to help slow the progression of the disease.

According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, enactment of this legislation would reduce the death rate among individuals on Medicaid living with HIV/AIDS by half over 10 years.

“Americans should not have to be diagnosed with AIDS before they get the drugs that can delay the onset of AIDS in the first place,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“It is time for Congress to pass this common-sense legislation that would save countless lives. It is absolutely unacceptable that 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.

@We commend Speaker Pelosi and Representatives Engel and Ros-Lehtinen for their tremendous leadership and look forward to continuing our work together to expand access to care and treatment for all Americans living with HIV/AIDS,” added Solmonese.

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