Friday, August 18, 2006

I've posted my latest column, Do we spend enough on AIDS?

I think it's clear we do, relative to other diseases that effect a much larger part of the population.

Here are some excerpts:

Government spending on AIDS research for 2007 is almost $3 billion, higher than any other major disease (Heart disease is second at $2.3 billion). Relative to the number of people affected, HIV spending is vastly higher than other recurring diseases. We will spend over $3,000 per HIV/AIDS patient next year, while spending only $50 per diabetic patient, even though diabetes kills five times more people than AIDS each year.
Part of the problem is political. For most communicable diseases, the health care strategy is to isolate and report cases to prevent the spread of disease. But with HIV/AIDS we adopted a strategy of silence, hiding the identities of those infected.

The argument against publicizing HIV infection was that it can’t be spread casually – in other words, because it is hard to spread, we don’t provide the information people need to make informed decisions to prevent the spread. And when people suggest ways to provide that information, they are often called bigots or homophobes.

Still, if spending $400 million would save over $650 million in health care costs, it would be a good thing, freeing up millions to spend on other diseases. But until there is good evidence that spending more money would actually change the behavior of the at-risk population, the money can be better spent on prevention and cure for illnesses that can’t be so easily prevented, or successfully treated. Medical funding shouldn’t be driven by special-interest politics.

I don't know why I don't post my entire articles here, but go ahead, indulge me, click on the link.

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