"These men are incredibly financially stressed and there's already been a pattern emerging across the Tasman of HIV positive men delaying picking up their next month's medications until benefit day," says Body Positive general manager Bruce Kilmister. "We don't want to see that happening here but I'm seriously worried."
Any break in taking HIV suppression medications, even for a day or two, can destroy those medications' usefulness and require changing to another of the limited combinations of drugs available to fight the debilitating virus. Without a successful combination of drugs to suppress HIV the body soon falls victim to any number of life-threatening medical ailments.
Most of men living with HIV are on the combination drug regimes meaning they are faced with several prescription charges at a time," says Kilmister. "Living on the benefit and trying to cope with the rising cost of living is already terribly hard. Budgeting to cover even basic costs is almost impossible already. Every last cent is already accounted for."
Kilmister says Body Positive, the nation's largest HIV positive people's support and advocacy organisation, has seen more men requesting food parcels to get them through Christmas than ever before. The organisation relies almost totally on donations to be able to provide small cash amounts as a last resort for financially desperate people with HIV, a link to their donation site is below.