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

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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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    I can see the thinking behind this move but as we don't have effective controls on our borders will a medical professional actually deny treatment with HIV to an illegal immigrant. If the answer to that is no then the whole scheme is doomed to be abused.

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    Please define "OUR people" in terms that are clearlty definable, I'd be interested to know who "we" are.

    Good point
    Our, meaning the people born in the country, quite simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    This is making everyone safer. Treatment for HIV greatly reduces the transmission rate. A policy that ensures that any people with HIV are getting treated and reduces the risk of them passing it on to others sounds like a good thing to me.

    While the risks of infection for most people are very low, noone who ever has unprotected sex, even in a "monogamous" relationship, is completely risk free.

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    Makes absolute sense - you only end up treating more serious and long term illness amongst this population and anyone they have infected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    Why should we pay for this ?
    There are more pressing demands than this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    642.roaminoff -''Perhaps we should listen more to foreigners. I am lucky enough to have many as close friends. Their usual comment is "why do you let your country be abused so easily"?

    But WE don't 'let it be abused'. I submit that the majority of the people born in this country are worried about immigrants .. but we have no say!

    No, I don't live in unrepresentative London. I live in England.

  • Comment number 663.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.

    "And no im not supporting our workshy, but they are infact OUR people"

    Please define "OUR people" in terms that are clearlty definable, I'd be interested to know who "we" are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 661.

    the bulk of the comments.. "But they're foreigners, let them die, why should we, why don't they?" . What about the hoards massing at the gates all you rightists? You're a nasty lot.//

    The really 'nasty' people are
    a - the ones who come to this country presenting a risk and expense to its inhabitants.
    b - those who think it's ok to steal our money to treat them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.

    We are missing the point that is these immigrants having UNPROTECTED SEX knowing they have this disease that is causing the spread. The only treatment I would like to see them get is booted out of the country. I would like throw them into prison first but them we would have to treat them. IF THEY SPREAD IT WE SHOULD BOOT THEM OUT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    "The entire world needs to kill diseases like AIDS, hepatitis, TB, stop going to wars with each other for shiny things and stupid religious ideals and greed."

    Tell that to countries who have witchdoctors telling AIDs suffers that to cure themselves then have to have sex with a virgin = multiple rapes of young girls.
    Those scum are now looking at the UK for bogus asylum.

    No thanks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.

    HIV still has no 100% cure so what is this treatment and how exactly will it prevent the spread of HIV if people a) don't take care or b) get infected accidentally?

    It's throwing money at the problem, not curing it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    Health Visas for foreign nationals are the only way forward if we do not want a bankrupt NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    WHY???? Let them pay, rather than using OUR overworked health service for their own selffish ends. What the hell is going on here. Have we taken leave of our senses! British first and foremost, with foreigners right at the very end of the queue!

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.

    Free prescriptions for English residents too - as occurs for Scotland and Wales please? I pay a pre-payment certificate to cover my numerous medications as I have Crohns disease - but on an average wage I don't qualify for free prescriptions.

    However, without numerous NHS surgery interventions, I would not be alive today and still working for the NHS. Lansley you have no idea of reality in NHS!

  • rate this

    Comment number 654.

    The NHS is on its knees and they do this, how the hell can this be justified"

    Well, if you'd read the article before commenting you might, possibly, have found out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 653.

    Reasons for it are quiet simple really:
    The government needs to cut the average life expectancy of citizens as it won’t be able to support them come retirement time.
    So invite anyone around the world with AIDS to the UK to pass on the infection thereby spreading the infection and lowering the life expectancy.
    Money saved, job done

  • rate this

    Comment number 652.

    NICE won't approve meds which are proven to work and (for example) to enable people who would otherwise die of chronic myeloid leukemia live a productive life. There is not enough data to prove statistically that they gain enough years life to meet NICE's £30k pa threshold. Come to UK with HIV & hide it for 6 months and you can get all your HIV meds free. Go figure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 651.

    Well, what a surprise, the bulk of the comments seem to be saying: "But they're foreigners, let them die, why should we, why don't they?" Blah,blah,blah & yet more bile fuelled blah! I'm happy to see that this faux, non-elected coalition hasn't completely sold out to the nasty right & has shown a bit of humanity. What about the hoards massing at the gates all you rightists? You're a nasty lot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 650.

    'Who is more entitled to NHS treatment, a "non-British" working in the UK or a White British who has never done a days work in his/her life?'

    This article is about non UK residents (failed asylum seekers, illegal immigrants etc) getting treatment for free - don't try and turn it into a race issue.


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