340B & HIV Treatment: The Lifesaving Story of Robert W.

Presenting with a CD4 count of only 21, doctors gave Robert W. mere months to live. Weighing only 98 pounds, his HIV had progressed to Stage 3 AIDS, and he was on his deathbed. Robert had been prescribed seven different HIV medications and had a long history of struggling with his HIV treatment compliance due to the complexity of his therapy coupled with the financial burdens of high co-pays.

Though he wanted to get better, he had to make decisions on which medications to buy based on what he could afford. Years of treating his condition with this hodgepodge approach left him resistant to many of the medications that could effectively treat his HIV.   

His roadblocks to adherence reached a crescendo when the loss of a brother he was close to left him hopeless and stripped his will to fight.

Complicating Robert’s case was that he had developed coronary artery disease and needed a bypass, but surgeons could not consider him a candidate for the procedure until his HIV viral load became undetectable. Knowing that heart disease was what claimed his brother’s life at the age of 50, Robert gave up hope and lost his will to live. He was on the sidelines of a tragic race that would determine which condition would claim his life first: AIDS or heart disease.

This was Robert’s condition when he enrolled with Curant Health for HIV treatment in January 2014.

Restoring access to HIV treatment and revitalizing Robert’s will to live

The team at Curant immediately went to work partnering with his team of clinicians at Virginia Commonwealth University to eliminate the roadblocks to HIV treatment compliance that were killing Robert. His medications were aggregated and sent in bubble packs to simplify the dosing schedule, making it easy for him to adhere to his prescribed therapy, even on the days when it seemed overwhelming to think about it.

As part of Curant’s outreach program, a patient care coordinator spoke to him every month to ensure he had no problems and was remaining compliant. She was his friendly reminder, a voice of compassion and knowledge that served equal parts encouragement and information source.

But the most important roadblock Curant removed was financial. Even though he was covered by insurance, Robert faced medication co-pays totalling $700 per month. Since he received treatment at a 340B covered clinic, Curant notified VCU that its 340B funds could be used pay Robert’s co-pays. It did so, and Robert no longer had to worry about how he was going to afford the HIV treatment and medications that would save his life.

For the first time, he had full access to all of the medication he needed at the same time.

Because of the complexity in 340B rules, many covered entities are not aware of every legitimate way the funds can be used. The program is heavily regulated by the federal government, but the guidelines are murky and many clinics lack clear visibility into where funds are allowed to be spent. That’s why Curant takes an active role in advocating for patients and consulting with clinics to help ensure funds are used appropriately where they can do the most good: directly saving lives.

With fully covered medication, easy to administer bubble packs, and monthly check-ins, Robert began a remarkable recovery that surprised and delighted his healthcare team. By July, his CD4 count rose to 96. More importantly, his viral load became undetectable, making him a candidate to receive the bypass surgery he needs to treat his heart disease. Robert is currently preparing to develop a plan to treat his coronary artery disease and he weighs a healthy 188 pounds with no timeframe on how long he may live.

Assuming his bypass surgery is successful, Robert is likely to enjoy a normal lifespan.

Heading to the 340B Coalition Winter 2016 Conference?

Stop by and say hello!  We will have team members at booth 43 who will welcome the opportunity to give you an update on the latest results delivered by our personalized medication management programs. If you’d like to set a time to meet in advance, drop us a line and we will make sure we have team members available to talk at your convenience.

Want to learn more?

To learn more about Curant’s proven capabilities to improve adherence, improve viral load suppression and improve value in HIV treatment, reach out to us at HIVtreatment@curanthealth.com.

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