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HIV treatment to be free for foreign nationals

28th February 2012

The Department of Health has revealed plans to offer people who were born abroad no-cost treatment for HIV on the NHS.

hiv

Currently foreign nationals with HIV are not treated by the health service unless they pay, although they can be treated for other conditions for free.

This group incorporates students, tourists and unsuccessful asylum seekers. 

Around 25,000 people are believed to have undiagnosed HIV in England and a large proportion of that number are thought to have been born overseas. 

The government said the plans would tally with changes made in Wales and Scotland, and they would ensure measures were put in place to prevent "health tourism".

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."

Yusef Azad, 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."

An amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, which is being considered in the House of Lords at present, would see free treatment for HIV given to people who had been living in the UK for six months or longer. 

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

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