The Guardian (London) (11.29.11) - Wednesday, December 14,
A UK law that prevents visitors and asylum seekers from
accessing AIDS drugs through the National Health Service (NHS)
must be changed, a senior HIV doctor recently urged. New
studies show that in addition to protecting the health of
people with HIV/AIDS, antiretroviral therapy also can prevent
onward transmission of the virus, said Jane Anderson, the new
chair of the British HIV Association. Barring access to
treatment makes no sense, whatever the patient's immigration
status, she said.
"The legislation raises complications about getting the right
treatment into the right people," Anderson said. "It deters
people from coming to services and it is very confusing."
The previous government passed the legislation following
tabloid-stoked fears about waves of immigrants seeking free
treatment in Britain - a claim that Anderson dismisses.
"The majority of people do not present for HIV care before
nine to 18 months after arriving in the country, when they are
ill or pregnant," Anderson said. "We've never seen people
getting off planes and rushing to HIV clinics."
Lord Fowler, the former Tory health secretary behind the mid-
1980s "Don't Die of Ignorance" AIDS campaign, made the same
appeal for treatment earlier this year.
Separately, new NHS commissioning arrangements also worry
Anderson. Specialist care will be organized by a national
board, whereas testing and prevention are likely to be
"We have some of the best outcomes in the world and the best
surveillance, and we're not doing a bad job," Anderson said.
"We're being asked to change the way in which we do that very
good job with financial pressures and a structural
reorganization, neither of which are really designed to
deliver joined-up care to a group of people who are already in
a complicated place in society."