Home Office denies asylum seeker dispersal increases HIV transmission

    The government has challenged new research that warns that the
    dispersal of asylum seekers could lead to increased transmission of
    HIV, writes Amy Taylor.

    The survey, which contains the views of 56 specialists in sexually
    transmitted diseases, also finds that dispersal is often done
    without the appropriate transfer of medical details and may
    compromise HIV care.

    A Home Office spokesperson said that there was no evidence that the
    dispersal of asylum seekers has any effect on rates of HIV
    transmission.

    The study, reported in the British Medical Journal and carried out
    by a team of specialists in sexually transmitted diseases, involved
    a questionnaire on the dispersal of HIV positive asylum seekers
    being sent out to all the sexual health clinics in England that
    treat HIV infected patients. It has responses from the lead doctors
    in 56 out of the 75 centres.

    Other findings state that 19 of the doctors covered had experienced
    patients being dispersed away from their centre against medical
    advice.

    The Home Office spokesperson said medical considerations were taken
    into account when assessing asylum seekers’ suitability for
    dispersal and that asylum seekers with HIV or AIDS were only
    dispersed to areas where suitable medical treatment was
    available.

    He concluded that the Home Office were working with the Department
    of Health to improve the dispersal process to “minimise any
    disruption in health care provision.”

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