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 329.

    Its the same utter rubbish as 'overseas aid'....

    If the public were ever asked whether we wanted to pay for this.... I don't think so.

    The Government.... all Governments constantly do things that are just plain wrong and make no sense! So what if your Granny has to sell her house to pay for care.... we got immigrants with HIV to worry about!

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    It won't save any money.

    Within 2 years the number of people coming into the UK with HIV will have rocketed.

    Of course the politicians will deny and cause and effect (as usual).

    The NHS cannot treat the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    I fail to see the logic behind this. How does having free treatment reduce infection? Is it not in fact the other way around. Free treatment will encourage more people with HIV to come here, hence increasing the risk of infection. I agree with others that suggest that all non-EU citizens visiting should have health care insurance. We have to take it out when we visit countries outside the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    280 mac

    "This disease is wholly avoidable by morality or condoms"

    No it isn't. Many of the sufferers outside of the UK are women who caught it from their husbands, or children who caught it from their mothers. If you want to take the moral high ground please get your facts right and don't stigmatise innocent women and children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    This country would make a cat laugh...
    So the normal working British Man/Women has got to look forward to a mass invasion of HIV Infected individuals who will no doubt claim some form of asylum and social Security.
    Meanwhile my day to day living goes up in cost and I just tried to book an appointment at the dentist only to be told 2 weeks wait.
    GET A GRIP CAMERON And have some backbone

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    My GP displays a poster showing drugs to avoid to cut costs. The hospital I work in asks patients to bring their own medications with them. We run 'stop smoking' clinics but can't prescribe the patches for patients who want to quit.
    It all seems a bit much when we offer free tests for non-British people instead of making them prove they are HIV free before they get a visa to enter our country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    The Neo-Lib facism infecting our state and peddled throughout our ruling classes...
    People like you make my day. Reminds me of the soapbox preacher scene in Life of Brian.

    You keep on mate, all power to your arm. No one is listening but don't let that weaken your resolve.

    Freedom for Tooting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    David Cameron should acquire a backbone and start sending all of these scroungers back to their homelands courtesy of the RAF.
    However he obviously prefers to wait until the NHS is destroyed and we are on our knees asking for IMF handouts. But never mind we will have the comfort of knowing that we appeased the liberal elite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    ". For heavens sake, if you want this to be a Christian country, act like Christians"

    Whoops. You will end up being called a xenaphobic , rabid racist , hate filled ignoramus coming out with stuff like that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    294. Your English and spelling SUGGEST something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    1 Minute Ago

    @281 "I'd happily vote in another Hitler right now if he'd get it all to stop." - Excuse me?!?!? How has this not been removed moderators!!!!

    Perhaps because they've read it in its full context instead of instantly branding it a racist/xenophobe comment like self righteous holier than thou's do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    Is this a joke ! I just despair of this nation. We are the do-gooder for the whole bl**dy planet.

  • Comment number 317.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    There is a relativeley low cost and simple answer to the problem. Any foreign national found to be infected with HIV should be immediately deported to their country of origin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    Clearly too many on here struggle with the concept of "enlightened self interest"!

    Peter_Sym (290) CF sufferers are not eligible for free prescription charges unless tehy qulaify under one of the other exemptions. The list was devised in 1968 when most CF sufferers did not survive into adulthood.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    For once this government has proposed a measure that is, at once, morally the right thing to do and also makes economic sense.

    It is a pity they do not apply this moral and economic sense to their relationship with the big drugs companies. e.g. They could save the NHS millions by encouraging the clinical trials of Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) a cheap and highly effective, but low profit, drug.

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    It never fails to shock me sometimes how vitriolic people can be on here. People with HIV come from all walks of life, and transmission happens in a number of ways. To talk of them all as irresponsible + 'brought it on themselves'? Tell that to the kids who got it from parents, the ones who weren't given information and didn't know how it was transmitted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    This is just another example of the idiotic decissions made in this country,if they are foreign and have HIV send them home.Years ago to work in Saudi Arabia I had to have an Hiv test BEFORE I went,if I wanted to move to Australia I would have to have a test BEFORE I went.No such medical tests(or criminal checks for that matter)are carried out on any foreigner BEFORE they move here.UK is a joke

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    I'm all for mixed culture but this is ridiculous. We are short on dosh and NHS struggled to offer high levels of service even before the cuts to funding. The Dept of Health are naive in saying it's difficult for somebody to come to the UK for treatment. Many come to the UK, stay with relatives during treatment. We're just becoming a charity for the world and the taxpayers are burdened yet again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    @281 "I'd happily vote in another Hitler right now if he'd get it all to stop." - Excuse me?!?!? How has this not been removed moderators!!!!


Page 28 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.