A report launched today to coincide with World Aids Day says the link between HIV and poverty in the UK has strengthened, with asylum seekers and Africans particularly affected.
The study, by campaign group the National AIDS Trust and aid agency Crusaid, found the average weekly income of applicants to Crusaid’s hardship fund dropped from £93 to £60 from 1999 to 2005.
The fund provides means-tested grants to people diagnosed with HIV, and the report said that between 2000 and 2005 people with no disposable income formed the largest group of applicants.
Between 2000 and 2005, the proportion of applicants of African ethnicity rose from 45 to 60 per cent, while over the five years 60 per cent of applicants were involved in the asylum or immigration process or had uncertain residency status.
The report called for asylum seekers to be allowed to work after six months, not a year as at present, and for their benefits to be raised to income support levels from the current 70 per cent.
It also called for councils to treat the housing needs of people with HIV as a priority and for improved and integrated health and social care for the group.
In another report today, MPs attacked government policies to charge failed asylum seekers for HIV treatment and return them to countries with poor treatment access.