In what may be seen as a controversial decision by some, the U.S. Medicare program will begin paying for facial filler treatments for HIV patients who have experienced the loss of fat in their face (facial lipoatrophy). The catch: those patients must not only be Medicare, but also be experiencing depression.
The depression catch may be an easy one with which to comply. “Doctor, my face looks like Boris Karloff!'” “That’s awful. Are you depressed about that?” “You betcha!”
I had begun experiencing the effects of facial wasting last year when I decided to do something about it, and filmed a video blog about my experience being treated by Dr. Gerald Pierone. I did an update video on the process only a couple of months ago. Dr. Pierone uses a sliding scale (his web site gives good information about his services), but there’s no doubt he was treating my spirit as well as my face. As someone who has lived with HIV for pushing 30 years, I never was self conscious about it until the evidence of my HIV started to show on my face.
I’ve got to hand it to Medicare for recognizing the debilitating effects of lipoatrophy on HIV patients, but something tells me that the political far right will make something of this. If they’re screaming racial and homophobic epithets at lawmakers over health reform, let’s place bets on how long it will take them to demonize free governmental “face lifts” for gay men.
Start your stop watches… now.