Facial Injections Covered for HIV Patients

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced March 23 that dermal injections used to treat facial lipodystrophy syndrome (LDS) are now a covered service for patients being treated for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who are suffering from depression.

The condition, medically called facial lipodystrophy syndrome (LDS), can be caused by HIV or by the drugs used to treat it. LDS is a localized loss of fat from the face causing an excessively thin appearance in the cheeks. LDS leaves patients suffering from HIV looking gaunt and seriously ill, which may lead to the stigmatization of the disease. The effects can cause some patients to suffer depression and discontinue antiretroviral therapies.

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Data shows that dermal injections can improve patient self-image, relieve symptoms of depression, and may lead to improved compliance with anti-HIV treatment.

“Today’s decision marks an important milestone in Medicare’s coverage for HIV-infection therapies,” said CMS Chief Medical Officer and director of the agency’s Office of Clinical Standards & Quality Barry M. Straube, M.D.  “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.”

Read the full decision memo on the CMS website.

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