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National AIDS Trust Gives Guidance for Professionals on Asylum Seekers and HIV

Monday, April 21, 2008

The National AIDS Trust has today, 21 April, published HIV and the UK Asylum Pathway. More people than ever before are living with HIV in the UK, and a significant number of asylum applicants are coming from high prevalence countries. This report makes the case for the needs of HIV-positive asylum seekers to be better supported throughout the asylum process and the HIV prevention needs of migrants to be considered earlier.

HIV and the UK Asylum Pathway is in two parts. The first section maps out the complex pathway an asylum seeker in the UK takes from application to when a decision is made on their claim. The second half of the report highlights the needs of an HIV-positive asylum seeker and identifies both challenges and opportunities professionals have to address those needs.

The report is an ideal guide for professionals including community care nurses, GPs and civil servants, who support asylum seekers through the course of their work.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust, comments;

“Asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable and marginalised communities in the UK and asylum seekers living with HIV face particular challenges.

A recent report by the Independent Asylum Commission stated the asylum system in the UK was not yet fit for purpose. There are certainly many challenges in the current system that need to be addressed to end enforced destitution and ill-health of asylum seekers. Current practices, including detention and dispersal at short notice and denying the right to work, can exacerbate ill- health from conditions such as HIV. But there are also many opportunities for professionals working with asylum seekers to make a significant difference to those they come into contact with.

We hope that this report can give guidance and ultimately improve the health of asylum seekers in the UK.”

HIV and the UK Asylum Pathway makes a series of recommendations to improve the current system. These include:

  • Providing HIV tests to asylum seekers who have clinically indicated or requested at the earliest opportunity with reduced waiting time for results
  • Increasing the availability of sexual health information to asylum seekers, and training all staff working in the asylum pathway on HIV including the importance of confidentiality 
  • Providing free HIV treatment for all in the UK irrespective of residency status
  • Considering the specific needs of successful asylum seekers as they integrate into their community.

HIV and the UK Asylum Pathway is available to download from www.nat.org.uk or can be ordered by emailing Alana.lewis@nat.org.uk.

Notes to the Editor:

For further information contact:

0207 8146733 / press@nat.org.uk

National AIDS Trust

The National AIDS Trust (NAT) is the UK's leading independent policy and campaigning voice on HIV and AIDS. It aims to prevent the spread of HIV, encourage early diagnosis, ensure people living with HIV have access to treatment and care, and eradicate HIV-related stigma and discrimination. www.nat.org.uk