The news may not be surprising, but it sure is distressing. Australia’s Same Same reports that 31% of HIV positive persons live below poverty. Despite the government’s promise to underwrite medical bills, about 286 of 924 survey respondents still can’t cope with the bills associated with infection:
In the La Trobe University’s Futures II study, which surveyed 924 Australian HIV positive people, more than half of the interviewees reported experiencing ‘some’ difficulty in meeting the cost of daily living. $190 is the amount of money available to patients on a disability pension and this is meant to pay for medications and clinic visits as well as day to day living expenses.
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s dietician Antoinette Ackerie says that despite the Australian government subsidising the vast amount of costs associated with HIV medications, the medical burden of HIV is still “quite significant”.
Some patients – in both Australia and abroad – pay over two grand for HIV-related medicines every month. You know how much you have to pay for a condom? Nada – most bars carry them for free. And, even if they don’t, a condom costs about a nickel – far more affordable than years of drugs.