HIV treatment access 'unfair and inequitable' report finds
New research by by Melbourne's Burnet Institute reveals access to treatment for people living with HIV in Victoria unfair and inequitable.
The report, commissioned by Living Positive Victoria (LPV) and the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre (VAC/GMHC), finds the current system of dispensing medications does not take into account the burden of costs for people and highlights the need for a more equitable approach to HIV drug treatment distribution to reduce financial barriers to treatment.
The report reveals many people face over $800 per year in costs for treatments plus additional costs for drugs to treat related health conditions.
“The report shows many HIV patients are unaware they can access concession cards and the Safety Net threshold,” lead author, Anna Wilkinson said.
“In addition, the complex application process could be a potential barrier to receiving HIV medications at a lower cost, or for free,” Wilkinson said.
LPV President, Ian Muchamore said to reduce negative health consequences and the new infections rate, cost and access of treatments must become more equitable and easier to access.
“We need to do whatever we can to ensure that those who need it can start treatment early and that access is easier to enable people to be successful on treatment,” Muchamore said.
“This means patient-friendly dispensing systems, cost recover mechanisms and policy that does not encumber the doctor needing to assess the patient’s ability to pay for HIV treatment.”
VAC/GMHC President, Greg Carter said a key question for Victoria is how to move forward.
“We need to make the current systems easier to navigate, fairer for all Victorians and still do what we can to minimise new infections and maintain good health for people living with HIV,” Carter said.