- Note - The best statistical estimation
as reported by MSNBC is that two-thirds of those with AIDS are receiving
regular treatment at this time.
- Treating people infected with the AIDS
virus in the United States is less expensive than generally believed _
about $20,000 per person per year, according to a study that tries to put
the best number yet on the cost.
- The study estimated a total cost of $6.7
billion annually, or less than 1 percent of all U.S. medical expenditures
on patients. ``Compared to what we spend on all kinds of other things,
it's just not that much money'' for the government to spend, said project
co-director Dr. Samuel A. Bozzette, a health care researcher at RAND, the
Santa Monica, Calif., think tank overseeing the government-sponsored research.
- The $20,000 tab is roughly one-third
of the estimates from the early 1990s, when firm figures were hard to come
by, and before the advent of AIDS drug cocktails that have proved powerfully
effective in fending off the disease and keeping patients out of the hospital.
- The study was conducted in 1996, just
as the combination therapy was coming into widespread use. It found 55
percent of people being treated for HIV were taking one of the newer AIDS
drugs by December 1996. Doctors believe use of the new drugs has since
- The study estimated that only half of
all American adults infected with the AIDS virus saw their doctor at least
once every six months. Many of those not getting care were unaware they
were infected. However, an encouraging 85 percent of those with full-blown
AIDS were getting regular care, with most of them seeing AIDS specialists.
Early treatment can slow the disease, extend lifespan and save money by
- The study was published in Thursday's
New England Journal of Medicine. It was based on interviews of 3,072 people
treated in hospitals or doctors' offices in dozens of urban and rural areas
around the country. ``I think the study is going to be very helpful''
in better targeting federal programs, said Dr. Joseph F. O'Neill, associate
administrator for HIV/AIDS at the federal Health Resources and Services