2018 Demystifying Medicine: Why is HIV still a biologic and epidemiologic challenge worldwide?
25 HIV Resources You Should Know About
Where to Find: Answers to Your HIV Questions
People who are newly diagnosed with HIV may find themselves overwhelmed with questions about their health, relationships, finances, and more. For answers, try calling national hotlines that can provide you with up-to-date information about HIV and referrals to key services in your area:
- State HIV/AIDS hotlines, many of which operate 24/7, can advise you about programs you may be eligible for and offer insights on how to access them.
- CDC-Info, a 24-hour service offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is an excellent resource for accurate, easy-to-understand information about HIV.
Where to Find: A Health Care Provider
“It’s important to start HIV treatment as soon as you can after being diagnosed,” says Linda-Gail Bekker, PhD, an infectious-diseases specialist and the president of the International AIDS Society. “Also important is finding a specialist you can work with as a partner over the long term.”
There are several online resources that can connect you to qualified specialists in your area, even if you live in a remote region or are limited financially:
- The Health Center Locator, managed by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), maintains a database of more than 8,500 community health centers. Enter your zip code to find a center that that has HIV providers near to you. Medical care is available to all, even those without insurance. Payment is made on a sliding scale based on your income.
- HIV/AIDS Medical Care Provider Locator, also managed by the HRSA, is available to those who lack sufficient health coverage or the financial means to cover the cost of care.
Community-based HIV service organizations are also excellent resources for specialist referrals. To find the organization that’s nearest to you, contact your state HIV/AIDS hotline.
Where to Find: Help With Health Insurance
Before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in 2014, only 17 percent of Americans living with HIV had access to private health insurance. While that figure has improved considerably, it can still be challenging to find or afford coverage if you have HIV.
There are federal and state resources that can help:
- The Health Insurance Marketplace, implemented under the ACA, is the first place to go to compare private health plans and purchase coverage from insurers in your state. Tax subsidies may be available to offset monthly premiums, based on your family’s annual income.
- Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide free or low-cost coverage for low-income Americans and other qualifying individuals. You can check your eligibility and apply for coverage using the Medicaid and CHIP Coverage Portal, or apply directly through your state Medicaid agency.
- If navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace is too complicated, you can use HealthCare.gov’s to find individuals or groups in your community who can assist you. The service is free, and many providers offer in-person consultations.
Where to Find: Help Paying for Your HIV Drugs
HIV drugs can be expensive, but there are government and private programs that can help people who are struggling to pay for their medications:
- The federally funded AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the largest provider of free HIV drugs in the United States, is available to low-income Americans who have insufficient health coverage. The ADAP State Directory outlines eligibility and application requirements for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and nine U.S. territories.
- Patient assistance programs (PAPs) offer free HIV medications to low-income Americans who don’t qualify for Medicaid, Medicare, or ADAP. The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) has compiled a Directory of Pharmaceutical Company PAPs, which includes a link to a common application form for all HIV drugs.
- Harborpath is a nonprofit organization that helps uninsured people get HIV drugs at no cost. It currently operates in 17 states, providing one-stop access and mail-order delivery within 48 hours of approval.
- The Patient Access Network Foundation provides underinsured individuals with financial assistance to pay for life-saving medications for chronic conditions, including those used to treat HIV.
- Co-pay assistance programs (CAPs) are offered by pharmaceutical companies to cover the cost of prescription co-payments for people with private health insurance. Income thresholds for these programs tend to be higher than those for ADAP and PAPs, which provide easier access for middle-income earners. A Directory of Pharmaceutical Company CAPs is available from NASTAD.
Whereto Find Affordable Housing
A stable home can make it easier for you to maintain good health, keep your doctor’s appointments, and stick to your daily drug treatment.
If you find yourself struggling to keep a roof over your head, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a variety of programs specifically for people living with HIV:
Where to Find: Help with Mental Health Problems
Untreated mental health and substance abuse problems can undermine the health of people living with HIV. They can complicate a person’s ability to stay in care or to maintain the necessary compliance with his or her daily drug regimen. For help, try:
Where to Find: Support
“While it’s extremely important to connect a person newly diagnosed with HIV to the medical care and financial assistance they need,” says Stuart Sokol, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and former director of the South Bay Free Clinic’s HIV/AIDS program in Sacramento, California, “it’s equally important to address their emotional needs. And that’s where support services come in.”
While finding support groups and counseling services can often be challenging, particularly in smaller towns and communities, several online HIV resources can help:
- HIV.gov (formerly AIDS.gov) operates a comprehensive Services Locator that can connect people to an array of HIV testing, treatment, and care facilities. Community-based health centers are typically the best sources for referrals for counseling and support groups, which are often conducted within the centers themselves.
- Meetup is a popular online social media portal that can connect you to HIV support groups in your area. If none are available, you can create one of your own. The customized group page function ensures member confidentiality by limiting people who can see or join your group.
- Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat offer the opportunity to connect with others who share in your interests about HIV. If you’re planning to start an online group or forum, take advantage of the New Media Primer offered by HIV.gov. Social media assistance can be booked online, with 45-minute virtual consultations offered free of charge.
Where to Find: Legal Assistance
Despite changes in public attitudes, discrimination against people with HIV still occurs. It can affect housing, employment, access to services, and even a person’s safety and well-being. If you encounter discrimination of any sort, contact the following resources for advice or assistance:
People with HIV who’ve experienced housing discrimination can file a complaint, either online or by phone, in accordance with HUD’s Fair Housing Act.
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