Non-UK residents to get HIV care on NHS

 

Overseas visitors to Britain are to be offered free HIV treatment on the NHS for the first time.

Ministers are backing calls for non-UK residents to be treated for the condition as part of efforts to protect the wider public.

Foreign students, workers and victims of human trafficking are among those expected to benefit.

The Department of Health said that safeguards would be introduced to prevent "health tourism".

Currently treatment for HIV is only available to people officially resident in Britain, excluding migrants.

But Lord Fowler, a former Conservative Cabinet minister who has campaigned on Aids, has called for free treatment to be extended to those who have been in Britain for six months.

The proposal, contained in an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill currently before the Lords, will be accepted by the Government but introduced in a Statutory Instrument rather than as part of the legislation.

The move comes amid concerns about rising levels of HIV infection and the cost to the NHS of not treating it early. Foreigners are thought to be dissuaded from seeking help because of the cost of treatment.

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "This measure will protect the public and brings HIV treatment in to line with all other infectious diseases. Treating people with HIV means they are very unlikely to pass the infection on to others.

"Tough guidance will ensure this measure is not abused."

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said that effective treatment of HIV reduced its spread by up to 96%.

"This change is in line with the UK Chief Medical Officers' Expert Advisory Group's advice, and offering NHS treatment will encourage testing, resulting in fewer undiagnosed HIV infections and therefore ensuring that there is less chance of passing on infection to the wider population."

Yusef Azad, the director of policy at the National Aids Trust, said: "If someone is tested and treated early, it is much cheaper than them presenting themselves in hospital with a much more serious, complex condition that can cost tens of thousands of pounds to treat."

Department of Health aides said there was little scope for somebody coming to the UK specifically for treatment as the process took months to administer and monitor.

They said the measure would bring England into line with Scotland and Wales, where foreigners can already receive free treatment for HIV without signs of "health tourism" abuse.

Professor Jane Anderson, chairwoman of the British HIV Association (BHIVA), said: "This is good news for people living in the UK who are HIV positive and also for public health in general.

"Access to treatment and care for some of the most vulnerable people with HIV in England has been compromised by the anomalies in the charging arrangements.

"Leaving people living with HIV unable to access the treatment they need makes neither clinical nor economic sense.

"Research shows that proper treatment reduces infectiousness and so stops other people becoming infected.

"It's a decision that will certainly save lives and also improve the quality of life of many who were previously shut out from appropriate treatment."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£120 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: The Humanities Department of this ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Music Teacher

£120 - £180 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Newham Position: Music Start dat...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee