March 20, 2014
This article was reported by Times Union.
The Times Union reported that New York State is one step closer to its goal of reducing HIV infection among residents, thanks to an agreement between the state and a major pharmaceutical company to provide antiretroviral (ARV) drugs at lower cost. State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah announced the arrangement with Gilead Sciences, Inc., on March 19. Gilead is thought to control 40 percent of the ARV market share. HIV activists hope other drug makers will follow Gilead's lead.
With more than 60,000 of New York's HIV-positive residents getting their medications through Medicaid, the state purchases a large volume of ARV drugs. According to Shah, it costs $379,000 to treat an HIV patient through their lifetime. ARV drugs control the transmission of HIV; more affordable access will mean a big overall cost savings.
Approximately 130,000 HIV-positive people reside in New York. Shah said the state hopes the new deal will slash the number of new diagnosed cases from 3,400 in 2012 to fewer than 730 by 2020.
Dan Tietz, executive director of the New York City-based AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, said approximately 40-50 percent of HIV-positive people in New York receive ARV treatment and retain an undetectable viral load, which reduces chances of transmission. That number needs to be doubled, Tietz added.