Foreign nationals now offered free HIV treatment on NHS

From 1st October 2012, foreign nationals will be able to access free HIV treatment on the NHS irrespective of their immigration status, the Department of Health has said.

In a new guidance, the Department of Health said: “From 1 October 2012, an amendment to the Charging Regulations means that HIV treatment is no longer chargeable to any overseas visitors and is provided in the same way as treatment for other sexually transmitted infections for which NHS treatment is free to all.  

“This amendment responds to the significant evidence on the benefits to public health of providing HIV treatment to all in clinical need. Left untreated, HIV presents a significant risk of transmission to people in the UK. The availability of treatment should increase the acceptance of confidential HIV testing in people from abroad living in the UK and hence contribute to reducing undiagnosed HIV.”

HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has welcomed the decision to offer foreign nationals access to free HIV treatment on the NHS.

Catherine Murphy, Head of Public Affairs for THT said: "Allowing foreign nationals access to life-saving HIV medication is an entirely sensible move. If someone with HIV is on the appropriate drugs, the level of virus in their body is dramatically reduced, making it less likely their infection will be passed on to others.

“Aside from the public health benefits, this is a sound economic decision too. People with HIV who remain fit and healthy tend not to become seriously ill or require emergency care, which saves the NHS substantial costs further down the line. These changes will therefore protect more people from HIV infection in the UK and save the NHS money in the longer term."

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