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31% HIV + Below Poverty Line

The effects of ice/crystal meth on the gay community was just one major talking point at this week’s International AIDS Society conference in Sydney. Raising even more concern was the revelation by Sydney dieticians that 31% of HIV-positive patients attending the city’s AIDS clinics were regularly going without meals and struggling with their bills.

Poor housing or homelessness are emerging as key concerns for HIV patients, as poverty is increasing as the face of HIV in Australia with one third of PLWHA in Australia living below the poverty line.

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”.

“The government needs to understand that people with chronic illnesses need the safety net of the Disability Support Pension in case their health deteriorates, says David Menadue on the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisation website.

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