Free HIV treatment on NHS for foreign nationals

Combination HIV drugs Ministers say treating people with HIV means they are unlikely to pass the infection on to others

Related Stories

Foreign nationals are to be offered free treatment for HIV on the NHS under plans backed by the government.

Campaigners say the move in England will reduce the risk of Britons being infected and cut the costs of more expensive later treatment.

Currently only British residents are eligible, which excludes migrants.

The Department of Health said it would bring England into line with Scotland and Wales, and there would be safeguards against "health tourism".

Extend treatment

There are an estimated 25,000 people with undiagnosed HIV in Britain, many of whom were born abroad.

People from overseas cannot be treated for the condition unless they pay, which is not the case for other infectious diseases.

This group of people includes failed asylum seekers, students and tourists.

Conservative former cabinet minister Lord Fowler, who headed the government's Aids awareness campaign in the 1980s, has called for an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill currently before the Lords.

This would extend free treatment to those who have been in Britain for six months.

The proposal will be introduced by the government in a Statutory Instrument rather than as part of the legislation.

'Good news'

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "This measure will protect the public and brings HIV treatment in to line with all other infectious diseases. Treating people with HIV means they are very unlikely to pass the infection on to others."

Yusef Azad, director of policy at the National Aids Trust, said: "If someone is tested and treated early, it is much cheaper than them presenting themselves in hospital with a much more serious, complex condition that can cost tens of thousands of pounds to treat."

Professor Jane Anderson, chairwoman of the British HIV Association, said: "This is good news for people living in the UK who are HIV positive and also for public health in general."

Critics claim the decision could prompt so-called health tourism and put the NHS under further financial pressure.

But the government pledged tough guidance to ensure the measure is not abused.

The Department of Health said it would be difficult for somebody to come to the UK specifically for treatment as the process took months to administer and monitor.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    Good grief.

    Let's see if folks can grasp this:

    1) The policy would bring England inline with Wales & Scotland and other EU countries.
    2) It would NOT extend to illegal immigrants or tourists.
    3) Evidence suggests that this would SAVE money.
    4) Evidence suggests this would REDUCE infections.

    How do we know? HIV is the ONLY infectious disease that the policy doesn't ALREADY apply to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    Yet another way we are being 'enriched' by mass unwanted immigration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    258. Unusualj

    No I do not forget this im saying what was helped be saved is now being destroyed in part by the same nations who once helped us.

    you speak of many immigrants to this country who staff our NHS.?

    You speak as they worked for free...they got paid, brought family's to use the NHS and school systems, require millions of pounds in translations? oh no it was all for us wasn't it?

  • Comment number 306.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    If you do not like providing foreigners with free healthcare sign the epetition and force foreign nationals to have private health insurance during their stay in the uk

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    268. daffodiljar

    Frankly, this WILL increase health tourism. We don't want people coming to live in England because of free everything. We are not interested in these people. Enough is Enough. Britain is FULL, SOLD OUT.
    If they cannot get free treatment in their own countries, they shouldn't be able to get it here. If the health authorities are worried about US, how about HIV campaigns?

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.


    First. Grow a pair.

    There are nasty people in the world.

    Always was,always will be.

    They,however,have always been far outnumbered by the good people,both in this country and around the world.

    When people talk about you have to fight for freedom they ain't kidding !

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Not so long ago a "house of ill-repute" in Bolivia staffed by Russian girls was closed down and ALL the girls deported from the country because some of them had aids.

    If Bolivia can do that with its limited resources why can't Britain?

    Our "leaders" are incompetent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    @ 280.mac....This disease is wholly avoidable by morality or condoms....

    So you have very moral unprotected heterosexual sex with your wife and you are safe ? No, because she had unprotected sex with someone behind your very moral back and that person had sex with someone two years ago who had HIV, result - you have HIV !

  • Comment number 300.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    HIV is now now a chronic lifelong condition. Essentially this is a greenlight to anyone in southern africa with hiv to come here. They'll never have to leave because it will be against their human rights and benefit from treatmen for their full natural life to the value of more than the average uk wage. What are these measures to stop abuse? As with most things this govt do and say thin on detail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Goodness me, the bean counters! The beancounters but a pound cost on everything. If my dear old granny was still alive, they would put a price on her worth too!

    HIV is an infectious disease that could infect ANYONE, including YOU! It is not a broken leg we're talking about here! Frankly, non-UK citizens should pay for non-life threatening injuries here but HIV etc, then no!

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    This is identical to the 'kids at risk' issue last week. It is counter productive not to treat people. That is not the issue and we can accommodate and help people up to a certain volume without real impact. The question is whether that volume is now too great. If you rescue so many that your boat capsizes and you all die, what was the point? Where is the line?

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    Does anyone know how much this will cost the NHS?

    Mind you, the Government has just clawed back £500,000,000 from Barclays by closing a tax avoidance loophole. Happy days.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.


    Once again we`re paying to heal the world and ignoring our own country. Myself.....just been told i have to wait 50 weeks to get a 1st appt with a view to surgery on my spine when i can hardly walk now

    Lucky you, it took me 4 years!

  • Comment number 294.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    Health tourism is a real issue in the uk and if you work in a surgery you will see how many foreigners come, then being their family's of which many have chronic conditions, diabetes, chd and they then get free meds for life. I don't blame them, it's the governments fault who allow this and now they shout about giving foreigners free aids treatment.. Those that never paid tax here in first place

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    The Neo-Lib facism infecting our state and peddled throughout our ruling classes is exactly the thing that will drive the electorate to have no sympathy or empathy toward those foriegners in need. The left are actually doing the far rights work for them without even knowing, and ruining it for the few immigrants who have played thier part. This kind of politics will come to a bloody crux and soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    If I go and live in the U.S. as a British person, I have to pay for health insurance. If I go to India I pay for a scan or medication"

    Choosing 2 countries that don't even provide universal health care for their own citizens is being rather selective don't you think. Fairer comparisons would be other EU and OECD states that do provide universal cover.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    171. surfingkenny
    a patient with cystic fibrosis has to pay for all medication , even though they would have paid taxes if worked etc. having a friend with CF struggle to meet their prescrition costs is horrible
    This is a fairly obvious lie: you don't pay prescription charges for life threating illnesses (I have a friend with Addisons disease), nor do you pay if you're not working.


Page 29 of 44


More Health stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.