HIV Outbreak Likely To Cost Millions In Medical Treatment

Dec 21, 2015

Health experts estimate the medical costs of treating patients from Indiana's HIV outbreak could reach tens of millions of dollars.
Credit Gretchen Frazee / IPBS

One health expert predicts the lifetime cost of treatment for those impacted by Indiana’s HIV outbreak could reach $58 million.

Since the outbreak began last year, the state health department says 184 people have been diagnosed with HIV.

Co-Director of the Rural Center for AIDS and STD Prevention Beth Meyerson says the lifetime medical costs for a person with HIV run between $230,000 and $350,000.

“This is non-medication related costs or chronic disease medication,” she says.

Ninety-percent of the people diagnosed as part of the outbreak also have Hepatitis C, which drives the cost of care up even more, Meyerson says.

Indiana Health Commissioner Jerome Adams says, so far, the state has spent between $1 million and $2 million on the HIV response.

He says the overall cost may be less than Meyerson estimates as the state continues to connect people to resources like syringe exchanges.

“I do think if we are vigilant, and if we continue to do the things we need to do, the cost won’t be as bad as $58 million,” Adams says.

Meyerson says the federal spending bill approved last week could help cash-strapped counties that adopted syringe exchange programs in the wake of the HIV outbreak.

She says the Congressional budget includes money for syringe access services.

Meyerson says there is no state funding for the three exchanges currently operating in Indiana nor for programs awaiting state approval.

She is advocating for legislators to provide some state money to help support syringe exchanges.