HIV/AIDS community health hit by federal budget
May17

HIV/AIDS community health hit by federal budget

LAST UPDATED // Monday, 19 May 2014 12:52 Written by // James Findlay

HIV experts are voicing their concerns over the proposed fee to be imposed on Australians when visiting health professionals, come next year.

In the budget announced by Joe Hockey last week, a levy of $7 will be charged when a general patient visits a doctor, gets a blood test or an X-ray from next year.

Rob Lake from the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisation expressed concern about the impact of the new co-payments on gay men who regularly test for HIV.

“The success of our efforts to defeat HIV depend on gay men being willing and able to look after their sexual health, getting a regular HIV test is a critical part of that,” he told MCV.

“For people with HIV, and LGBTI people with other chronic illnesses, a visit to the doctor, a test of some sort or filling a prescription are frequent costs, not occasional costs.

“When these costs become a burden, we see people skip medications or doctors’ visits. Getting and staying well is hard work for many people, we need to help wherever possible,” he said.

Ian Muchamore, President of Living Positive Victoria, told MCV health services took a major and unwarranted hit in the latest budget.

“Our recent study on the barriers to accessing HIV treatment highlighted that there is already considerable unfairness in access to treatment. These budget measures will make a flawed health system even worse for people living with HIV.”

The budget proposals are potentially bad news for the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC), who are planning the implementation of STI testing at their free PRONTO! service.

VAC CEO, Simon Ruth, told MCV:

“While rapid testing would still be free, any confirmatory blood analysis would now have a cost attached. Similarly, any STI screening to occur at PRONTO! would also have a cost.

“We are concerned about the impact this may have upon people deciding to follow up with a STI screening and confirmatory blood tests after a reactive rapid test result,” Ruth said.

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James Findlay

James Findlay

James Findlay is a Melbourne-based writer and broadcaster who has worked in community media for many years. He has won awards for his work on The Naughty Rude Show on SYN, and can be heard on JOY 94.9's breakfast program, Triple Threat, and Hide and Seek - exploring sex, sexuality and self. James was also the Marketing and PR Manager for Melbourne's Midsumma Festival for two years, before traveling overseas where he taught English in Germany and worked as a tour guide around Western Europe. He is currently studying his Masters at Melbourne University in Public Health (specialising in Sexual Health).

Comments (4)

  • Richard

    19 May 2014 at 12:45 |
    Certainly, if these fees are introduced, I won't be able to afford medications, blood tests and visits to the doctor. I'll just have to cut down. Stop taking medications, only go to the doctor once a year.
  • Daniel

    17 May 2014 at 23:09 |
    Hey! Don't complain! The money collected is all for a good cause, it will all go to a fancy new medical research fund which might even - who knows - discover a cure for HIV! That is if the government doesn't raid the said fund first to cover its money troubles (remember the Future Fund?)
  • GTM

    17 May 2014 at 17:28 |
    Absolutely agree. All efforts in getting HIV transmissions to zero by the end of the decade will be in vain thanks to the actions of this federal government. I mean, why would you put even more obstacles and disincentives for people when seeing a doctor. One of the easiest thing the Abbott Government could do in the fight against HIV is to put rapid HIV testing as a Medicare-funded service. I guess that won't be happening anymore. If you voted for this man, I hope you realise now what a big mistake that was. Huge.
  • Claudia

    17 May 2014 at 14:05 |
    I am appalled by the people who didn't see through this Liberal government before they voted for them. Women in domestic violent relationships also attacked with funding cuts. A more important cost that was hidden in the budget is the $100 fee to see a specialist on top of the $7 for everything else. I also read in smh it would be $28 to receive blood test results. People need to protest until govt is overthrown or a double dissolution election is called. Really people? A guy who hates his own lesbian sister & idiots voted for this

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