New Guidance on Dispersing HIV Positive Asylum Seekers

In response to concerns about the health of HIV positive asylum seekers being put at risk through dispersal, the National AIDS Trust has today published guidance for healthcare and voluntary sector professionals who work with asylum seekers.

The booklet, ‘The Dispersal Process for Asylum Seekers Living with HIV’, published in conjunction with the British HIV Association (BHIVA), includes a summary of recent changes to the policy for dispersal of asylum seekers, in response to pressure from the National AIDS Trust and other organisations.

The National AIDS Trust booklet sets out clear guidance for healthcare professionals on the arrangements that need to be put in place for asylum seekers who will be dispersed to different areas of the country. The booklet also includes sections for GPs, HIV teams receiving dispersed asylum seeker patients, and voluntary sector organisations.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust said:

“We welcome the changes that have recently been made requiring action to safeguard the health of HIV positive asylum seekers. However we know that not all professionals are aware of these changes and our guide is designed to encourage compliance with these new policies, to prevent unnecessary ill health and distress.”

If the new policies are implemented correctly, asylum seekers living with HIV should only be dispersed:

If the asylum seeker is medically stable
Adequate notice of dispersal is provided to the asylum seeker
Their treating clinician is satisfied that arrangements are in place for the safe transfer of care.

Where things have gone wrong

Anita is an asylum seeker living with HIV. She was given two days notice by the Home Office to leave her home in London to be dispersed to the South West and was unable to get enough medication to see her through the move. There were no plans in place when she arrived for her to receive healthcare, and when she did eventually see a GP she had become resistant to her usual HIV drugs as a direct result of the interruption, putting her long-term health at risk.

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