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HIV patients face complex medical systems, legal aid can help 

Thanks to medical advancements, advocacy, and awareness, HIV is no longer a death sentence for those who are diagnosed. The virus, which attacks the immune system and can develop into AIDS if left untreated, can be managed by regular medication with the help of medical professionals. 

That means the stakes are higher for patients with HIV.  

Lapses in care and treatment can cause serious health issues that compound over time. But according to KFF, formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in five residents living with HIV are not actively receiving treatment for the virus

The 2023 study found that those HIV-positive patients “were also more likely to be uninsured, experience changes in their usual source of care related to insurance changes, and were less likely to have a regular provider or to receive support from the Ryan White Program.” 

At Inland Counties Legal Services, our Health Team can help patients navigate the complex healthcare system, enroll in public health programs, and receive the care they are entitled to. December is HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, and we know it takes an entire community to support people living with HIV.  

In the midst of a life-changing diagnosis, folks shouldn’t have to worry about how they’ll afford treatment that keeps them alive. 

One senior client living with HIV came to ICLS because he was struggling to pay his monthly insurance premiums — a total of nearly $700 a month. 

ICLS called the Office of AIDS Health Insurance Premium Payment Assistance program through the California Department of Public Health to confirm the client would be eligible for the program, which covers the health care premiums individuals with less than 500% of the federal poverty level. 

With the program, the client was able to keep his same doctor and maintain his treatment without those same monthly premiums, and many out-of-pocket copays and HIV-maintenance medications are paid for. 

In total, the client saved $2,089.74 in their premiums alone.  

Still, HIV is a lifelong condition — there is no cure. So when that same client realized his insurance coverage through his former employer was ending, he came back to ICLS for assistance getting a new Covered CA plan that would serve him through his retirement. ICLS advised him on the plans he was eligible for and ensured he would still receive assistance from the Office of AIDS Health Insurance Premium Payment Assistance. 

With the help of legal aid, our client was able to continue seeing his doctors and maintain his current level of care. That’s the difference legal services can make in someone’s life.

Call our intake line if you are an HIV patient and need assistance, or head to if you want to support this impactful work.