Limiting migrant access to the NHS - NAT comment.
(NAT) National AIDS Trust comments on the Government’s consultation on limiting migrant access to the NHS, including charging for primary care.
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, says: “If introduced, these policies will endanger the lives of people living with HIV and threaten the health of our community. The proposals would undermine years of work by bodies such as NICE and the British HIV Association to encourage marginalised at-risk groups to access HIV testing and treatment.
“Public health experts agree that access to a GP is essential to reduce rates of undiagnosed and late diagnosed HIV, especially amongst those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, as they are less likely to go to a sexual health clinic.
“Being diagnosed late increases tenfold your risk of dying in the next twelve months. People with undiagnosed HIV are far more likely to become seriously ill, needing hospitalisation and expensive treatment funded by the NHS. They are also far more likely to transmit HIV unknowingly to others.
“By limiting access to primary care for some migrants living in England we would cut off the only place many of them will get an HIV diagnosis – short of presenting at A&E many years after they were infected, once they are very seriously ill.
“We are calling on the Government to urgently re-think their proposals to limit universal primary care access to migrants living in England. If they go ahead they risk putting lives at risk and accelerating the spread of HIV in the general population.”
- A quarter of people living with HIV in the UK do not know they have the condition
- People from black African communities have the highest rates of late diagnosed HIV in the UK. 65% are diagnosed late, after having the condition for five or more years – this is compared to 47% for all people diagnosed with HIV.
Please read Sarah Radcliffe's blog on the subject on the Mirgrant Rights website.
Or for more information please see out 2008 document The Myth of HIV Health Tourism.
Notes to the editor:
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NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.
Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.
www.lifewithHIV.org – a resource for HIV positive people
www.HIVaware.org.uk – what everyone should know about HIV