Care provisions for HIV/AIDS patients unclear

Issue 

Care provisions for HIV/AIDS patients unclear

SYDNEY — NSW community services minister Ron Dyer came under fire from HIV/AIDS groups on July 23, which claim that he has failed to clarify whether people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH/A) are entitled to services from the Home and Community Care (HACC) program.

A report titled "Us and Them", funded by the department, which looked into access and equity issues in eastern Sydney HACC services, shows that many service providers are completely unaware of this entitlement.

In an area where 56% of the state PLWH/A live, front-line HACC services such as Meals on Wheels, shopping and food services and personal care and cleaning services would assist to maintain basic needs and therefore keep many out of the hospital system.

PLWH/A (NSW) Inc convener Phillip Metcalf said, "In July, 1994, a clarifying statement on eligibility for people with episodic conditions was issued by the department. Such conditions may include multiple sclerosis and in some cases HIV/AIDS. These people are also eligible to receive community support services provided by the HACC program. This is why the report's first recommendation is that the minister clarify entitlement."

Botany Neighbourhood Centre coordinator Barbara Delcasse noted that Dyer had been asked twice since April for the statement. "Each time he's simply referred it back to his department", she said.

The report was undertaken last year following community concern about poverty amongst PLWH/A. Its 55 pages contain 20 recommendations covering changes to policy, information provision, training, funding, service delivery and follow-up issues.

Metcalf said, "PLWH/A (NSW) Inc is concerned that this excellent report is stalling at the first recommendation".