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 689.

    I think this sounds a great idea as it will mean better treatment for people born and bred in the UK. After all, we have become foreigners in our own country over the years due to inept Governments, so if this means we start getting looked after again, who are we to complain?

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    For those who feel that this is putting non-citizens before citizens of this fair isle, this policy is the CHEAPEST way to ensure the safety of the citizens of this country.

    It's not about helping out foreigners its about the a cost effective way to protect our health.

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    I find the use of the word 'foreigners' on the main news page offensive. Using such subjective and provocative language invites the posting of racist and discriminatory comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    My partner has Rheumatoid Arthritis which leaves him in crippling pain. Diagnosed 13 years ago, but he pays for his prescriptions at over £30 per month. Aparently, this disease can leave you as quickly as it takes you down which is why he has to pay. The laws, rules and regulations of this country become more bizzare by the day. . . . . I'm looking for the'out door'

  • rate this

    Comment number 685.

    With the NHS under fire the outrage towards this article's initial assertion is understandable. But it is important to emphasise that not only would this new policy include safeguards against health tourism but also that HIV is currently the ONLY infectious disease to which foreign nationals are not entitled access to treatment. If we want to protect ourselves - preventative measures are the cure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    608. psgm

    Car accident abroad, blood transfusion. Can't see how that's avoidable, unless you refuse a blood transfusion.

    Other examples are unfaithful partner contract virus, blood contact with a HIV infected person through numerous circumstances. It's unfortunate, but can and does happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    The goverment should charge all foreigners for their use of the NHS.If we went to their country and had medical attention we would have to pay the full asking price or be jailed. Mind you , this is yet another encouragement for people to come here, illegal or otherwise. It could only happen in this country with the do-gooders shouting out 'human rights' for people who are not entitled to be here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    "Our, meaning the people born in the country, quite simple"

    So if your parents were on holiday outside the UK & you were born, then you "quite simple" would not qualify? that is good to know. Anyone born here during a holiday would also be "OUR people" regardless of their parents origin?

  • rate this

    Comment number 681.

    Our, meaning the people born in the country, quite simple."

    OK, so not the children of UK citizens born abroad due to military service overseas, diplomatic assignments and those working abroad for multinational companies or other reasons. I know quite a few people whose children should not be treated under the NHS in that case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    A foreigner is defined as 'A stranger or outsider.'

    Myself, I would prefer to look after, hope to make comfortable and see to the welfare of those in my family, my friends and others that I grew up with and THEN look to caring etc. for strangers or outsiders'
    Why is this so difficult to comrehend?

    Don't start me on arranged marriages and subsequent dependent influx. gggrrr. ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 679.


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


    It's already been defined, like when UK Pakistanis say 'our people' and UK Chinese say 'our people' and UK African/Black people say ... you get my point!

  • rate this

    Comment number 678.

    624 Rebecca Riot: My Grandparents lost many siblings in the war too. My maternal Grandfather died in battle. They died fighting for freedom, including freedom of speech. Freedom of Speech is about listening to stuff that really makes your blood boil and not stopping that talk. It's not easy, I grant you, but better men than me died fighting for it and I believe they were right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 677.

    but its not "letting them die" - We are not responsible for the millions of sick people around the world - we can not possibly heal every sick person in the world.
    The British (and others that live and work here) pay taxes here - we would like the systems to work for us first and foremost
    If we were the richest nation on the planet, then we could fix every leaking pipe, but we arent

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    On more than one occasion, I have had to undertake HIV screening as part of a work visa application.
    How ironic it is that the citizens of those countries don’t need testing to come to work in the UK.
    Get a grip Cameron; stop trying to save the world & start trying to save us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 675.

    A bit early for April Fools don't you think?

  • rate this

    Comment number 674.


    "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!"

    But what do we (including myself) do about it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    My Grandparents lost many siblings fighting in the war, it eats me up they did so only to be sold out by likes of you and other liberal scum!"

    My parents fought in the war as di their friends and siblings, losing some. They did so in the belief they were fighting for individual liberties and freedom from irrational prejudices & persecution. They would be shocked they even bothered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    HIV is the biggest killer of women of child bearing age in the WORLD! A large part of this problem is through lack of education and lack of choice with regards to contraception. I am not sure this proposal is the answer but some of the responses on here turn my stomach. What is our society turning into? We should refuse entry to anyone who has or is from a country at risk?! Wow that's depressing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    597.Proletarian Revolutionary

    "Many of the comments here show that compassion is from bygone era….."

    I'm sure that it is, but what I am wondering is: where did it go to?

    I read the headline "Free HIV treatment on NHS for foreign nationals" and thought to myself "I wonder how well that will go down with the cognoscenti of HYS?" . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    659. So you'd rather let all foreigners with aids die because of some rapey animals? You're letting media hysteria get to you too much. Its not like the entire continent or even a sizeable minority are like this. Its a significant and horrifying minority. Difference.

    Take a step back from your hate and fear.


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