During last night’s TV leaders’ debates, the UKIP leader claimed up to 60% of new HIV infections every year were from non-British migrants, coming to the UK for the £25,000 a year treatment.
Dr Christian Jessen
Farage has aimed a punch well below the belt. His widely discussed views on HIV are both misinformed and dangerous. I’m pleased to say no doctor I know would EVER turn anyone in need away, as we know that getting someone treated is the most effective way of preventing further infections. His low view of migrants with HIV can only reflect his low view of residents with HIV. The relative costs when compared to other NHS spending are tiny. But my fear is that people will believe this sort of stigmatising, scaremongering guff and may be swayed by it. Medicine has never been, and will never be, about blame or finger pointing. It seems that some politicians, like Farage would like to change that and it is a very very cheap trick indeed.
Christian Jessen is a TV presenter and writes The Clinic health column in Attitude each month. @DoctorChristian
Dr Ranj Singh
Nigel Farage’s comments are both discriminatory, misinformed and add to the stigma faced by many HIV/AIDS sufferers. There is little evidence that ‘AIDS tourism’ is a significant issue, but plenty of evidence to show that testing and treating people early and properly prevents further problems and therefore reduces cost to the NHS. In fact, smoking and alcohol are a much bigger issue, and he’d be better off dealing with that rather than making inflammatory statements like this.
Dr Ranj is a TV personality who has appeared in Attitude and our bookazine Love and Marriage. @DrRanj
Nigel Farage’s comments smack of ignorance and failing to see the bigger picture. How is he planning to achieve this? Install testing booths before passport control? That’s a pretty expensive move in itself. The fact is, latest studies show that HIV+ people with undetectable viral loads are highly unlikely to pass on the virus. By ‘closing our borders’ to migrants living with HIV, all we do is drive disclosure underground. Those with the virus (and that’s if they even know they have it) will not seek treatment, which means they will become more infectious to others and will likely experience a greater decline in overall health. That means more financial strain on the NHS further down the line, both from treating new infections, and treating late stage HIV from those who have not had access to, or are unwilling to seek treatment.
Kristian Johns has a bi-monthly column on HIV in Attitude. @guy_interruptd