Young HIV positive men reluctant to start ART
A study by UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health has revealed HIV positive men under thirty are proving reluctant to take up anti retroviral therapies (ART).
The report suggests a sense of health and wellbeing, a lack of social welfare support and poor clinical engagement is inhibiting newly diagnosed, young HIV-positive gay men from accessing these life saving treatments.
“Younger, recently diagnosed men are likely to feel healthier and be free of HIV symptoms compared to their older HIV-positive peers, making them less inclined to begin treatment and this decision is often supported by their clinician,” said lead researcher Dr Limin Mao.
“Young gay men often aren’t ready to commit to life-long treatment and its potential side-effects immediately after receiving their HIV diagnosis.”
The study results were derived from answers received in the Gay Community Periodic Survey. 1911 HIV positive men participated in the survey across six states between 2010 and 2012.
Dr Mao suggested the cost of ART drugs could be prohibitive for many young men diagnosed with HIV and suggested the planned introduction of GP co-payments would further impact on people’s decision to obtain meds.
“ART is heavily subsidised by the Australian government, but there is still an up-front drug co-payment that’s required. This, combined with the travel costs of getting to a clinic regularly for prescriptions is expensive,” she said.
“HIV is still a highly stigmatised disease – many newly diagnosed people, particularly those who are employed, find it hard to combine regular visits to clinics and pharmacies with work,” said Dr Mao.