Regional and rural patients boycott health services

FEAR of stigma and discrimination is forcing many regional and rural Queenslanders with a serious illness to boycott local health services.

Health experts told APN Newsdesk many HIV-positive locals refused to get their medications from the region's chemists because they were scared of being outed as having the disease.

They also hid their HIV status from local doctors, nurses and other medical professionals for the same reason.

In July, the Federal Government made it possible for HIV-positive people to collect their antiretroviral therapy medications from community pharmacies.

Before that, the scripts could only be filled by hospital chemists.

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations executive director Rob Lake said he was not surprised people were scared.

"One of the things we know is that there are people who will go to another town to see a GP, particularly in smaller towns," Mr Lake said.

"People might be concerned because others might hear something." - APN NEWSDESK



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