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Scrapping of medications co-payment will improve lives of people with HIV, says Positive Life NSW
Sep29

Scrapping of medications co-payment will improve lives of people with HIV, says Positive Life NSW

LAST UPDATED // Tuesday, 29 September 2015 17:17 Written by // Ron Hughes

The scrapping of medications co-payments will dramatically improve access to treatment for some people living with HIV says the state’s peak body representing HIV positive people.

Positive Life CEO Craig Cooper told GNN the cost of medications had impaired some HIV positive people’s ability to receive effective treatment in the past.

“Typically 70 per cent or more of people living with HIV in New South Wales are working and earning their own money, but there’s a portion of people living with HIV who are either on some type of government benefit or are what we would technically call the working poor.

“So for those people in particular that amount of money on a monthly basis is a lot of money and it does impact on their decisions around treatment options and treatment adherence.”

“The other issue is we’ve been anecdotally advised by prescribers, pharmacists and people with HIV that, when the announcement [of the waiver] was made back in March, people who had been diagnosed with HIV since that time have actually been holding off on commencing treatments because of the financial implications,” Cooper said.

“It’s really fantastic that Minister Skinner and the NSW Ministry of Health have been able to bring this into action sooner rather than later, because we know there were people out there who were waiting for the waiver to come into effect.”

The dropping of the co-payment had even greater implications for people with co-morbidities, for example someone undergoing treatments for HIV and also being treated for other conditions, such as cancer.

“Within New South Wales we’ve recently done a study on multiple-morbidities and co-morbidities, and we know that as we’re living longer and getting older people living with HIV, that there are typically numerous diagnoses, so anywhere in between 30 to 40 per cent of people with HIV would have co- or multiple-morbidities,” Cooper said.

“Typically if they get a diagnosis like cancer, this is going to have implications around them either commencing other treatments or being able to deal with the cost implications and their treatment options.

“So this is really exciting news for people being able to maintain health and their quality of life.”

“In the past we’ve had people who’ve had to make decisions about whether to pay their rent, to buy groceries for the week, or to buy their medications,” Cooper said.

“Even though we’ve got great agencies such as BGF and other places where people can try to get some financial assistance, a lot of the time they’re just small amounts of money, and so the sustainability of that – particularly when they have multiple-morbidities – can be a difficult scenario for them.”

“We’re super excited here at Positive Life NSW that this is occurring and we’re very pleased the state government is doing something to make sure if cost is an obstacle or inhibitor to treatment access and treatment adherence, that those obstacles are removed.

“So we’re very pleased with this news.”

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Ron Hughes

Ron Hughes

Ron Hughes is the editor of SA's only LGBTI magazine, blaze.

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