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Free HIV treatment launched

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Free HIV treatment launched | Thaiger

PHUKET: The Phuket Provincial Social Insurance Office today announced its part in the first publicly-funded scheme to make medicine available free to HIV-positive people following the scheme’s launch on the penultimate day of the XV International Aids Conference in Bangkok.

As of August 1, Thais registered as resident in a province or foreigners registered for social security will be able to get anti-HIV therapy worth up to 73,500 baht a year from the hospital at which they are registered for social insurance purposes.

The treatment will be provided free at the point of service, with the hospital taking responsibility for claiming money back from the local Social Insurance Office.

Everyone requiring therapy will automatically qualify to receive treatment worth 12,500 baht per year (1,042 baht per month). Should the treatment not prove successful in arresting the spread of the virus (for example, if resistance to the drugs develops), additional treatment of up to 60,000 baht per year can be prescribed by the patient’s medical practitioner.

Each person will also be entitled to two 500-baht tests a year to establish his or her CD4 count. In simple terms, the CD4 count indicates how severely the virus has affected the immune system.

Patients who require treatment beyond the maximum allocation, or whose doctor does not give consent for further treatment beyond the initial 12,500 baht, will have to finance the difference in cost themselves.

Speaking from the Aids conference in Bangkok, Jose Luis Gay, the founder of Phuket’s Life Home Project, the island’s only refuge for HIV-infected women and children, welcomed the news. “Anything that gives [more] people greater access to treatment is a very positive step forward,” he told the Gazette.

Anti-HIV therapy consists of treatment with drugs that attack the virus by interfering with the way it reproduces itself inside human cells. The drugs cannot kill the virus but they can slow or even stop its spread.

The scheme has been under consideration for some time and the launch date is part of the celebrations for HM Queen Sirikit’s 72nd birthday.

For further information, contact the Phuket Provincial Social Insurance Office at Tel: 076-240418; 076-222837; 076-355325. Fax: 076-222836, 076-240419.

 

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