Getting the HIV Medical Care You Need During Coronavirus (COVID-19)
With more cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) occurring in the U.S., keeping up with your health care is more important than ever. For individuals living with HIV, that means staying in touch with an HIV care provider and taking antiretroviral medications daily to keep your HIV in check and your immune system strong.
A weakened immune system can make you more vulnerable if you become ill, including with COVID-19. For people living with HIV, it is critical to be consistent with care and treatment to keep your HIV under control and immune system healthy. This will help to keep your CD4 count up and your viral load down. Learn more about HIV and coronavirus.
If you are living with HIV and not connected to care because of lack of – or insufficient – insurance or costs, there are options for you. You can also get help with other social support needs, such as housing assistance, mental health care, dental care, substance abuse, and other services.
About the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program works with health departments and local community-based organizations to provide HIV medical care and other support services for people living with HIV who have no insurance, need certain services their insurance doesn’t cover, or have problems paying.
The Program covers outpatient HIV care and treatment for those without health insurance and helps fill coverage gaps for those with insurance. The program provides both core medical services – including HIV treatment, mental health, and dental care – as well as other essential support services – including transportation, nutritional assistance, short-term housing, and case management. It may also be able to help with the cost of things like insurance premiums, cost-sharing, and the cost of medication.
The AIDS Drug Assistance Program or ADAP, which is part of the Ryan White Program, helps provide access to HIV medications. Programs cover the cost of HIV-related prescription medications for low- to moderate- income people who have limited or no prescription drug coverage. All states also use ADAP funds to help clients pay for the cost of health insurance. However, each state operates its own ADAP, so the type of insurance supported (e.g. private insurance, Medicare, etc.) eligibility, and the types of costs covered (e.g. premiums, deductibles, cost-sharing, etc.) may vary from state to state.
Your local Ryan White / ADAP program can help you figure out what is available to you and the best options for getting access to care and treatment.
HIV Services During Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In view of the new coronavirus, some states are making eligibility procedures more flexible to allow for social distancing among clients and staff. Whether new or returning, you can ask about appointments by phone or video, and may be able to submit documents electronically if local regulations allow. Also, having at least a 30-day supply of HIV medications is recommended. Check with your health plan to find out how they might help ensure continued access to treatment during this time.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, use the CDC Symptom Self-Checker or contact your primary care provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, people with HIV can now buy affordable coverage in the health care marketplace. Financial assistance may be available. In some states, coverage may be available through expanded Medicaid programs. Find information about your state.
The content here is excerpted from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) website (November 2018) and TargetHIV.org (November 2018).
“I've sought care both with insurance and without insurance. And I want people to understand and to know that there are options out there.”
Mahlon explains how the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Care Program offers support services for people with HIV, including mental health care, housing assistance, and more.
He also talks about the AIDS Drug Assistance Program to help individuals with financial need get their HIV medications.