Asylum-seeking children living with HIV are being denied the help and support they need because immigration controls are taking precedence over their health and well-being concerns, campaigners have warned.
A new report by the Children and Young People HIV Network says that HIV-positive children in the UK whose immigration status is insecure are struggling to access the necessary health care and are living in poverty with poor housing and facilities.
“What we see is a system of contradictions where immigration controls and restrictions take precedence,” said Magda Conway, report author and network co-ordinator. “We should not allow asylum and immigration legislation to prevent us from considering [children living with HIV], first and foremost, as children in need.”
The report calls on the National Asylum Support Service to review its policy on dispersing families with health needs, and recommends that all caseworkers supporting an HIV-infected child provide the child’s clinician with contact details.
“The plight of all children in the asylum and immigration system is a concern, but for children living with HIV there may be additional difficulties due to their own or their family’s health needs,” Conway added.