From 1st July 2022, people living with HIV who are ineligible for Medicare will be able to access their HIV treatment free of charge from government-funded hospital pharmacies.
It follows a welcome announcement made by the Australian Government, on World AIDS Day 2021 for a $39 million investment over five years to fund access to treatment and care for Medicare-ineligible people living with HIV. Up to now, treatment was only free for people who were on Medicare.
This is a really great development for Medicare-ineligible people living with HIV who previously may have had to rely on drug trials, personal importation, compassionate access arrangements or other means to maintain their health.
It’s important to remember that for anyone diagnosed with HIV in Australia, including migrants, there are strict confidentiality and privacy guidelines to protect you and your information. You can be reassured that your personal information will not be shared without your consent.
So, what are my options for accessing treatment?
There are options for what this can mean for you and how you access treatment.
If you are currently accessing your treatment via a hospital-based pharmacy, the good news is, that this essentially means there are no changes in how you currently access your treatment.
If you haven’t already, we recommend speaking with your doctor about any changes to your current arrangement that may be taking place.
While these changes to access are being worked out, compassionate access to HIV treatment will be maintained, so you don’t have to worry about losing access to your medication.
Option 1: Attend a public hospital for both doctor consultation and medication
You can visit a public hospital to talk to a doctor and have your medication dispensed from a hospital pharmacy. The cost of consultations and any required pathology will be covered by the hospital.
Option 2: Continue to see your doctor not based in a hospital, then visit a hospital pharmacy for medication
You can continue to see your regular s100 prescriber but will need to have your medication dispensed from a hospital pharmacy. The cost of the consult, and any required pathology will need to be covered by the patient or practice.
Option 3: Talk to a doctor at a sexual health clinic, then visit a hospital pharmacy for medication
You can talk to a doctor at a publicly-funded sexual health clinic and have your medication dispensed from a hospital pharmacy. The cost of consultations and any required pathology will be covered by the sexual health clinic.
Option 4: Importing treatment through the self-importation scheme
You can still access your medication through the self-importation scheme at your own cost.