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Doctors Urge Free HIV Drugs for All
  Guardian (London) (03.08.05):Sarah Boseley
A new report by four HIV/AIDS experts maintains that HIV prevention and early diagnosis and treatment are not only a human right but also a responsible use of UK taxpayer funds. The doctors called for HIV to be reclassified as an STD that must be treated for free by Britain's National Health Service.
Drug treatment for someone with HIV costs about 7,000 (US$13,503) per year, and the Department of Health estimates that preventing just one transmission of HIV can save NHS between 500,000 and 1 million (US$964,525-$1.92 million).
Controversy over asylum and immigration has led to misperceptions about the burden placed on NHS by people from other countries, says the report by Brian Gazzard, consultant physician at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, and three colleagues. Contrary to popular assumptions, most HIV patients from overseas have been in the country for some time on legitimate work permits or student visas, it said.
In their report, titled Treat with Respect, the doctors wrote, "As medical practitioners the panel maintains that everyone, irrespective of nationality, should be entitled to medical care for HIV while they are resident in the UK and on the grounds of public health we caution against refusing treatment for failed asylum seekers and others of undetermined immigration status prior to their deportation."
The researchers said that treating the estimated 899 asylum seekers with HIV who entered Britain between October 2003 and September 2004 would, over an average lifetime, save between 500 million and 1 billion (US$964 million-$1.9 billion). But confusion over the rules may deter some people from being tested, thereby furthering infections, they said.
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