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 729.

    @726.Peter Nunn

    By average I meant working class,unemployed, or tax paying, property owning, in deep financial mess, small family to support, etc.. etc..
    All good reasons to feel betrayed by the "elite".

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    The UK is the softest touch in the world, that's why people flock here for health treatment and benefits.

    I certainly will never vote for Labour or the Conservatives again, we need a party that sticks up for Britain and British tax payers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    Is this another signal to the freeloaders of the world to get here illegally and take us for mugs...........which, of course, we always are. High time our "agencies" were a bit more determined and creative in measures to prevent abuses of our system. Couldn't we try to be one step ahead instead of fifteen years behind!

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    Ah well thats a few thousand more votes for the BNP, UKIP or some New Sharia UK party.. I dont think the UK govt has any clue how extremist the average voter is becoming.
    Just a thought, can the 'average' be extreme?

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    @ 721 - "If your tomatoes had an AIDS-like virus, they wouldnt be let anywhere near the public"

    The over-arching point, aside from pointing out the silliness of the comparison, is that it's a bit more complicated to rule out all infectious diseases than it is to look at a vegetable and say 'that's not allowed'.

  • Comment number 724.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    702. LunaRain
    Unfortunately, the UK government has allowed some African countries to run roughshod over us in a political circus over work visas.
    I’m concerned that this may be more of a politicaly motivated move rather than common sense; common sense being that HIV positive immigrants should be paying for their own treatment.
    FYI, SA did not ask me to prove my status when I worked there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 722.

    For those advocating HIV screening for admittance to the UK, why just HIV, there are other deadly diseases much more infectious. Also how do you propose to fund this new border control unless you plan on running clinics yourself test results are easily forged. Lastly it’s possible for someone infected to get a negative test result within the first 3 months.

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    Yes, funny.
    To clarify - if some nations are so fragile that a fruit/vegetable/animal could have disatrous effects to the ecosystem - we should consider the risk to public health of letting in anyone with HIV/AIDS - after all, its not like its curable and we're the only ones with that cure.
    If your tomatoes had an AIDS-like virus, they wouldnt be let anywhere near the public

  • rate this

    Comment number 720.


    "Others seem to understand, sadly, you're not too bright!"

    I'd rather be "not too bright!" and ask questions than make assumptions without thinking about it, after all I'm not English so often am not "OUR people" on these forums.

    You've answered your own repetitive question then! Racism and bigotry doesn't happen in your own culture, does it?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 719.

    Mayna >
    after all I'm not English so often am not "OUR people" on these forums.

    First question
    How long have you lived here, and have you paid your taxes if so no problem
    Second question.
    Are you going to apply for citizenship, and i urge you to no problem.
    I lived in Romania for 2 years
    I had to pay for my own health insurance or face the costs
    No insurance no treatment and they are an EU state

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    Another bright idea from the government to WASTE NHS money together with the adverts we are bombarded with daily, ie smoking, bowels cancer (which is lovely when your eating) all of which any person with an average iq would know anyway. Can we no longer live our lives as we want? not what David Camerson thinks we should do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    Sorry, but if you're Australian and you've hit your thumb with a hammer in Australia, its not OUR responsibility, here, to treat you.
    However, if you turn up and pay we have gauze and painkillers.
    The National Health Service should not be an international healthcare charity - thats not what i want to pay for

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.

    London already treats for free HIV people from all over the world.. many Brazilians, Indians etc.. Surely some kind of international pressure could be brought to bear on BRICS countries,& wealthier countries to provide adaquate medical funding for the distribution &funding of HIV drugs? The UK aid for India etc. better spent in UK on HIV treatment for foreigners?

  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    HIV treatment is expensive and there have been many arguments on the cost of the drugs, so now in a time of cutbacks and reductions in funding we are going to treat the world at our expense, they say there will be safeguards against health tourism, but they don't collect the money that is owed at present. Many come to this country already infected knowing they will get treatment and not pay for it

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    687.Laura - I find the use of the word 'foreigners' on the main news page offensive....invites the posting of racist and discriminatory comments.
    I think you might need to grow a thicker skin. What word would you find less offensive?
    The detail of the story is more likely to invite the type of comments you're objecting to, rather than the flagrant use of the 'F' word!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    "Others seem to understand, sadly, you're not too bright!"

    I'd rather be "not too bright!" and ask questions than make assumptions without thinking about it, after all I'm not English so often am not "OUR people" on these forums.

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    703.bm87 - ''Living with HIV does not equal being a criminal.''

    True ... BUT I think most criminals are less of a health risk than someone with HIV having unprotected sex which perhaps gave them HIV in the first place!

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    @ 704 - Certain countries have restrictions on fruit/veg/animals etc. that you can bring in - so why cant we have one on dangerous diseases?

    A disease is exactly like a vegetable. I suggest we start testing tomatoes at the border to make sure it's a fruit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    Listen i do not like this government, and i also did not like the previous one. Its about time we started to look after what is important to us, which in my mind is the NHS and our old and sick, and to put it plain and simple its all we have left.
    This proposal is plain wrong whilst we are cutting back the NHS
    This treatment costs over £1000 pounds for 28 doses that can be better spent else where


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