Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a press release to announce its decision to cover facial injections for Medicare beneficiaries who experience symptoms of depression due to the stigmatizing appearance of severely hollowed cheeks resulting from the drug treatment for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The decision, that was announced on March 23, 2010 was effective immediately.
According to a CMS press release,“facial lipodystrophy (LDS) can leave people living with HIV looking gaunt and seriously ill, which may stigmatize them as part of their HIV-infection status. Individuals who take these medications and experience facial LDS side effects may suffer psychological effects related to a negative self-image. These effects may lead people living with HIV to discontinue their antiretroviral therapies. The new decision allows for treatment of individuals who experience symptoms of depression due to the appearance changes from facial LDS.”
Last week’s decision “marks an important milestone in Medicare’s coverage for HIV-infection therapies,” said Barry M. Straube, M.D., CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Agency’s Office of Clinical Standards & Quality. “Helping people living with HIV improve their self-image and comply with anti-HIV treatment can lead to better quality of life and, ultimately, improve the quality of care that beneficiaries receive.”