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Low-Income HIV Patients Suffer with Healthcare Access

20-year Quebec study reveals socio-economic inequalities impact access to AIDS treatment despite universal health care

Apr 18, 2018

Montreal — Quebecers do not have equal access to anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for HIV and AIDS, a long-term study undertaken by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in collaboration with clinics and university health centres in Montreal, has revealed. Researchers observed that HIV-infected persons who count on social assistance and other income security programs in Quebec do not have early access to ART due to their presumed lower socio-economic status.

According to the paper published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, social welfare recipients and others who do not have paid employment struggle for early access to necessary ART despite access to universal health care. Early ART is a key factor in reducing AIDS and non-AIDS events, including cardiovascular, renal, hepatic and neurocognitive disorders, and cancer among persons living with HIV. In addition, early treatment also significantly decreases the risk of HIV transmission.

“This paper shows we need to take socio-economic factors into consideration when it comes to better controlling the HIV epidemic in Canada. People who are vulnerable economically may be put at greater risk because access to ART is delayed,” says study lead author Dr. Jean-Pierre Routy, a senior scientist from the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health (IDIGH) Program at the RI-MUHC and a hematologist at the Chronic Viral Illness Service of the MUHC. Learn more