Hogan holds off on HIV-Aids grants

Anna Majavu and SAPA

Anna Majavu and SAPA

A special grant for people living with chronic diseases like HIV-Aids is still a long way off.

That was the word from Health Minister Barbara Hogan, briefing the media in Pretoria yesterday.

Currently people living with HIV-Aids receive temporary disability grants. These are normally stopped once their health improves.

"HIV-positive people are taken off the temporary disability grant once their health improves, but this can have implications . like not taking their medicines," Health director general Thami Mseleku said.

The government's national HIV-Aids plan, drafted two years ago, recommended that people with HIV be provided with "a chronic disease grant" to cover the cost of nutritious food, transport to clinics and medicines.

Hogan conceded that many people with chronic diseases were poor and having a chronic disease often pushes them further into poverty, "but much more work is needed before a proposal can be tabled at cabinet".

Treatment Action Campaign researcher Gavin Silber said the issue of a chronic disease grant was an urgent matter.

"There is a lot of confusion about who qualifies for the grant. In some centres, HIV-positive people qualify and in other centres they don't."