News Update

South Korea: Seoul City Seeks Recognition of AIDS Patients as Disabled

khap | 2008.04.18 04:34

Under a plan put forward by the government of Seoul, people with HIV would be classified as disabled and would thus be able to access more financial benefits.

Research by a team from Inha University and the Korean Alliance to Defeat AIDS (KADA) forms the basis for the request. According to their report, many people suffer financial hardships after being diagnosed with HIV. Although people with HIV are exempted from paying national health insurance premiums, the researchers found that 47 percent of 281 patients surveyed had no regular income, and more than 55 percent lived on less than 500,000 won (US $501) a month. The team also noted that HIV/AIDS patients are classified as disabled in the United States and Japan.

In South Korea, "Current registration cards detail diseases or disorders," a KADA spokesperson said, so patients are sometimes reluctant to register with the government due to privacy concerns.

The proposal is being submitted to the national Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, which is not keen on it. A ministry official said that granting disability status to HIV/AIDS patients would likely bring complaints from persons with other chronic conditions like heart disease or cancer.

"What HIV-positive patients need is practical support, and we should be able to provide it without having to recognize them as disabled," the official said. "We are fixing standards for the disabled by 2010 and might take a look at the issue then."

Seoul is home to about 1,693 of the 4,343 South Koreans diagnosed with HIV.

Excerpted from:
Korea Times
04.15.2008; Bae Ji-sook

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