Nigel Farage on HIV comments: I have to say negative things ‘to get noticed’

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Nigel Farage has opened up about his dire warnings about “foreigners with HIV” – claiming he uses a negative tone “to get noticed”.

The UK Independence Party Leader repeatedly claimed in two separate TV debates that “foreigners with HIV” were causing a funding crisis within the NHS, and that there have been “7000 diagnoses” with “60% from non-British nationals”.

Despite comprehensive proof his statistics were untrue, and condemnation from HIV charities, Mr Farage has stuck by his claim on the issue.

The UKIP leader was challenged about his comments by Newsnight host Evan Davis in an interview.

Mr Davis said: “Does it worry you that if you sound off on foreign criminals, foreigners with HIV… all of these things may be true, there are people with HIV, there are foreign criminals.

“But if you ramp up the rhetoric on these issues, many British people will say this party is not where I want it to be with modern British values of worldliness, tolerance and being a good global citizen?”

Nigel Farage responded: “To wake people up to the truth of what’s going on, you sometimes have to say things to get noticed. Political parties evolve and change.

“If you look at the way UKIP is fighting this general election, from our manifesto to speeches I’ve given all over the country, what I’m saying is we no longer need to make the negative arguments about the effect that immigration has had.

“The argument we are now making is we are the one party that firstly offers a solution, and has a positive and an ethical vision for how immigration should be managed.”

When pushed to answer the question, Farage added: “I’m answering by saying, in order to get the public aware of some of these issues, perhaps that tone had to be used.”

The BBC’s statistics show More or Less recently looked into Mr Farage’s claims about HIV – and found his original stats were incorrectly interpreting figures, based on data many years out of date, and failing to take into account basic considerations like people contracting HIV while living in the UK.

His numbers also did not reflect the fact that treating people with HIV reduces transmission to British nationals – reducing the overall cost either way.

When asked which kinds of people should be allowed to enter the UK in October, Mr Farage said: “People who do not have HIV, to be frank. That’s a good start.”