canadian-moneyMoney matters a lot and influences all areas of our lives. While there are many people living with HIV (PHAs) who have financial stability, numerous PHAs experience financial insecurity. In an informal survey of PHAs who access HIV Community Link’s HIV support services programs, 64% reported that they have financial needs.

There are many reasons why this is the case. For many people, employment is a main source of reliable finances. However, a person living with HIV may be unable to work due to health concerns.  But that’s not the only reason. An employed PHA who can physically carry out the duties of a job when he/she is healthy might find it hard to maintain employment due to the episodic nature of HIV. These PHAs may experience stigma & discrimination in the workplace which can make it difficult to continue employment. A PHA looking for work might be challenged securing employment because of a spotty employment history (due to health concerns) and again, because of discrimination. Being able to work, keeping work and finding work, can all be a challenge with HIV. Financial stability doesn’t always come in the form of work, but accessing financial assistance programs isn’t always easy or an automatic. It is hard to navigate the system, and the qualifying criteria can eliminate some people from having access to the financial resources. At HIV Community Link, we often have individuals who have been denied financial benefits and go through a lengthy and confusing appeal process. There are PHAs who find themselves unable to work but ineligible for assistance.

Financial instability impacts people in numerous ways. First and foremost, not having money can mean a lack of appropriate housing, transportation, nutritious food or other basic needs. It is also harder to access employment services, training & upgrades when a person’s financial resources are low. Living without financial stability can also create dependency on abusive or unstable living environments and therefore may have little options to leave.  In short, poverty reduces opportunities, independence and control over a person’s life.

In addition, People living with HIV may have increased negative health outcomes when living with low financial resources.  PHAs may experience increased disease progression as they may be unable to meet additional health needs such as proper nutrition, safe & healthy living environments or access to additional prescription medication.  Adherence to medication can be a challenge for a person who doesn’t have access to HIV medication, medications to manage side effects, or transportation to a clinic. Low income PHAs may also find it challenging to access complementary therapies, vitamins, health centres and other services that can improve wellness.  Health is much more than only the physical, and PHAs with low financial resources may experience a decrease in access to engagement in life: recreation, family/friends, education, as example, which influences mental and emotional health, influencing physical health.

The challenges with finances wellness exposes PHAs to hardship at a time when support, services and health are needed most. This why HIV Community Link works hard to address financial issues for PHAs. Money matters. Period.

For more information on how we can support any client financial needs contact us at info@hivcl.org or give us a call at (403) 508-2500