Proposed health bill would reverse progress on epidemic

The Senate health bill, if passed, could cause death for thousands of Americans living with HIV while simultaneously increasing the number of new transmissions. Decades of progress in limiting the AIDS epidemic will be reversed in just a few years.

When people living with HIV take medication, they don’t transmit the virus to others and can maintain a high quality of life. Ending the HIV epidemic, the goal of the UNAIDS Fast Track Cities Initiative which the City of Denver committed to in 2015, is within our reach. In fact, we believe we can do it before 2030.

The formula for the ending the epidemic is simple: Get life-saving medicines to the people who need them. To do this, we must provide HIV testing and make sure that people living with HIV have access to high quality medical care.

The proposed Senate bill does just the opposite. It eliminates protections for people with pre-existing conditions like HIV, and it mandates drastic cuts to Medicaid, the program upon which over 40 percent of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. depend.

Without federal support for Medicaid expansion, Colorado could lose billions of healthcare dollars and be forced to cut Medicaid coverage making it more difficult for people living with HIV to access care, the key to ending the epidemic.

We strongly urge our senators to oppose this dangerous bill that would take health care away from thousands of people living with HIV, and rather than moving us toward our goal of ending the epidemic, would send us spiraling back toward its dark early days.

WORDS by:

SARAH E. ROWAN, MD
Denver
STEVEN JOHNSON, MD
Denver
BENJAMIN YOUNG, MD

Dr. Steven Johnson works with the Colorado University Hospital Foundation, a beneficiary of TAB funding. This open letter was published in the Grand Junction Sentinel on June 28th, 2017.