In this week’s Closer to the Cure, we delve into President Obama’s plans to expand Social Security budget to include gay couples, a Victoria’s Secret model raises money for women with HIV/AIDS, Insurance companies increasing medication costs for HIV/AIDS patients, and more.
President Obama Proposes Social Security Equality for Gay Couples
This week the President proposed a budget fix for gay couples seeking Social Security benefits. The budget included language that would remove a legal barrier prohibiting same-sex couples in non-marriage equality states from receiving certain Social Security spousal benefits. If the budget is approved, U.S. code would be changed so that married same-sex couples would be eligible for these benefits even if they live in a state that does not recognize gay marriage.
In addition, Obama’s proposal budget will continue the funding seen for HIV/Aids programs at fiscal year 2015 levels and in some cases provides for a modest boost in allocations, according to The Washington Blade.
The budget also highlights the importance of programs targeting high-risk groups for HIV/AIDS, such as gay and bisexual men, as outlined in the National AIDS Strategy.
Candice Swanepoel’s New Denim Collection Will Help Raise Money for Moms Living with HIV/AIDS
South African supermodel Candice Swanepoel has been a supporter of amfAR (the Foundation for AIDS Research) and this week the Victoria’s Secret Angel launched a collaboration with Mother Denim to help benefit mothers2mothers, an organization dedicated to training mothers currently living with HIV to work with healthcare providers to peer-educate other HIV positive mothers and mothers-to-be.
The Candice Swanepoel for Mother Denim collection will feature 90’s-style t-shirts and denim and will be available this month.
Insurance Companies Overcharging HIV/AIDS Patients for Medications
Despite the mandate from the Affordable Care Act that bans insurance companies from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions, many are getting around the restriction by charging HIV/AIDs patients much higher rates for their drugs.
Researchers at Harvard University conducted a study of 48 health plans in 12 states and found that about 25% of providers used “adverse tiering”, a type of pricing scheme that forces patients to pay at least 30% of a drug’s cost. The rise in costs drove many patients to switch healthcare providers.
The AIDS Institute and the National Health Law Program filed a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services about four Florida insurance companies who overcharged HIV/AIDS patients for their drugs. The complaint is still pending despite the companies agreeing to lower their prices.
Research Suggests Latent HIV May Be Hidden in ‘Quiet’ Immune Cells
HIV belongs to a family of viruses that insert themselves into the host of cell’s genome where they can hide out quietly after the initial infection. HIV mostly targets CD4 lymphocytes, a type of T cell involved in initiating an immune response.
Antiretroviral medications are able to suppress infection but they can’t eliminate it due to the medications’ inability to touch the virus’ hidden cells. Researchers believe the reserves lie dormant within the infected white blood cells. Unlocking the secrets to this pool of latent virus has been a motivating factor in finding a cure.
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