THE HEALTH of people living with HIV is in question as the Slovak Medical University in Bratislava (SZU) lacks money for diagnostic kits – meaning a delay in viral load testing.

People living with this virus have to undergo the testing twice per year to measure the level of HIV in their blood to indicate how their treatment should continue. Now, those examinations are delayed by three months. Since insurance companies demand test results for covering treatment of HIV-positive people, patients may also be forced to halt their treatment, according to Danica Staneková, the head of National Referential Centre for HIV/AIDS Prevention of the SZU.

“It may result in the worsening of his or her health condition and the formation of resistance to drugs which they have been using,” Staneková said, as quoted by the Sme daily.

Even the device conducting the tests broke down recently, according to Staneková who added that now it operates correctly.

The National Referential Centre for HIV/AIDS Prevention registers around 400 people who need viral load tests. The number of patients is growing, as 82 new patients were registered in 2013. Modern medicine can stop the virus from progressing and allow people to live significantly longer than they did even just a few years ago.

SUB: Cutting the budget

University representatives said they cannot buy a sufficient amount of diagnostic kits because the Health Ministry is continuously cutting its budget, Sme reported.

The Health Ministry alerted the university in advance in this matter, saying viral load tests are of the highest priority, ministry spokeswoman Martina Šoltésová told Sme. The Ministry demanded that the SZU calculate the amount of money it needs to cover those tests that it currently lacks, she added.

The price for one test costs anywhere from €100 to €150 depending on how many samples are needed. The tests are delayed despite being covered by insurance companies. For example, the insurance company Dôvera paid €2,600 for the testing of 22 patients in May 2014, according to Sme.