UK urged to stop deporting people with HIV to uncertain treatment

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The British government should review its policy of deporting people diagnosed with HIV in the UK to countries where treatment is not readily available or affordable.

Two HIV charities, the AHPN (African HIV Policy Network) and NAT (National AIDS Trust), are calling on the Government to use Human Rights Day as an opportunity to review the UK’s position.

The AHPN is an alliance of African community-based organisations and their supporters working for fair policies for people living with HIV and AIDS in the UK, providing training, support, research and information.

It claims there are strong public health arguments for allowing a concession.

“Those awaiting removal may go underground and fail to keep appointments resulting in an increased risk of opportunistic infection with the need for emergency treatment and an increased risk of onward transmission,” the group said.

“The Department of Health has valued the prevention of one single onward transmission as between £0.5 and £1 million in terms of individual health benefits and treatment costs.”

The UK Government signed up to the G8’s pledge of universal access to HIV treatment for all those who need it by 2010.

Titise Kode, Chief Executive of the AHPN, said:

“At an international level the UK government has shown leadership in supporting universal access to treatment for all who need it.

“But this leadership has not been shown at home where policy of deporting people to countries where treatment is not accessible erodes the rights of HIV positive people and calls into question the government’s commitment to meeting its human rights obligations.

“Every day the AHPN receives accounts from people who fear that a knock at the door will result in them being deported to a country where they won’t have the life-saving treatment and services they need.”

The AHPN wants the Home Office to delay the deportation of people living with HIV from the United Kingdom until HIV treatment becomes more widely available and accessible.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, said:

“On Human Rights Day the UK government needs to urgently consider how in the removal process the Government is failing to ensure people receive uninterrupted HIV treatment and appropriate ongoing support, in the UK and in their destination country.

“By deporting people living with HIV without ensuring their treatment can continue the Government is ignoring people’s human right to health and ultimately putting lives at risk.”

Today is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.