Politicians condemn Nigel Farage’s HIV comments

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UKIP leader attracts criticism for saying the NHS should not treat foreigners with HIV.

On last night’s televised leaders’ debate, the UKIP leader said: “There are 7000 diagnoses in this country every year for people who are HIV positive, but 60 percent of them are not for British nationals.

“I know there are horrible things happening in many parts of the world, but we need to put the system there for British families who have paid into it for decades.”

He was immediately slammed by Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, who said: “I think you ought to be ashamed of yourself.” She was met with the night’s first round of applause.

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, said “When somebody is diagnosed with a dreadful illness, my instinct is to view them as a human being, not consider what country they come from.”

Afterwards, Ed Miliband tweeted his reaction to the comments:

Nick Clegg similarly criticised the “vile and desperate” remarks.

Chancellor George Osborne was asked his reaction, and stated that he was “not going to dignify that with a response”. 

Dr Rosemary Gillespie, CEO of Terrence Higgins Trust, said in a statement: “It was great to see so many people express outrage after Farage’s comments last night about the numbers of people in the UK with HIV who were not born here. HIV is a public health issue in the UK and globally.

“If we do not take an inclusive approach and provide treatment for people who need it, we will never prevent onward transmission.  24% of people living with HIV in the UK do not know they are living with it, and 4 in every 10 are diagnosed at a late stage, after they needed to start treatment.

“HIV doesn’t discriminate and politicians shouldn’t either. Such ill-informed and discriminatory comments generate stigma, and make it harder to encourage people to take a test and stay safe”.

In October Nigel Farage said not allowing HIV positive people into the UK would be “a good start”.