British health system overwhelmed by HIV-positive people
BY Advocate.com Editors
June 19 2003 12:00 AM ET
The number of HIV-positive people receiving free treatment through the United Kingdom's National Health Service is so high that the nation is considering steps to limit the number of new patients seeking treatment, The [London] Sunday Telegraph reports. Because HIV-positive immigrants account for more than two thirds of those currently receiving government-paid treatment, the country is considering implementing a mandatory HIV screening process for immigrants, with those testing positive likely to be denied admission to seek medical care. U.K. human rights laws allow HIV-positive people from developing nations with poor health care systems to seek asylum in the United Kingdom in order to receive free medical care. But that policy has so taxed the health system that it now runs at an annual deficit of about $20 million.
"Not only do we not have enough money for our own population, but we are having to treat lots of people from other countries," said Anne Edwards, a consultant for the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust. "We are shelling out huge amounts of money."
Government officials met last week to discuss immigration restrictions for HIV-positive people. "We have moved from considering whether to introduce screening to what form it should take," a senior official told the Telegraph. "We are drawing up a list of high-risk countries."