Policies worsen health of those with HIV, say Lords and MPs

A “complete lack” of communication between the Home Office, the
National Asylum Support Service and social services departments
could result in the health of asylum seekers who are HIV positive
deteriorating, a parliamentary report warned last week.

Migration and HIV: Improving Lives in Britain, by the all-party
parliamentary group on Aids, focused on asylum seekers and refugees
with HIV amid concerns about the growing stigma surrounding this

The report examined the impact on asylum seekers of immigration
policy, particularly the use of removal centres, dispersal, and the
benefits system.

“We found that such policies can negatively impact upon the
physical and mental health of asylum seekers with HIV and increase
the risk to public health of HIV transmission,” said group
chairperson Neil Gerrard, Labour MP for Walthamstow in east

The report says that the current asylum system forces individuals
to live in “abject poverty”, thereby undermining clinical efforts
to maintain good health.

It recommends the government develop and implement national best
practice guidance on asylum seekers who have HIV that involves Nass
and social services. This should include training for senior
personnel on how to maintain good practice, and a revision of the
dispersal and benefits system.

In addition, the group is calling for an end to the detention of
individuals with serious communicable diseases, such as HIV, if the
government cannot provide for their care inside removal

On the issue of the introduction of mandatory testing for HIV, the
report recommends the government support policies that encourage
HIV testing for the purpose of ensuring more effective access to
treatment and care, but not with the aim of exclusion on the basis
of an HIV positive result.

Community Care’s campaign Right to Refuge, which was launched in
May, aims to demand the fair treatment of asylum seekers and
More information

Report from www.appg-aids.org.uk


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