HIV Diagnosis "Leads to Poverty" in United Kingdom
September 16, 2003
As a result of their diagnosis, people with HIV/AIDS face living in poverty, losing their home to debt, and depression, the British charity organizations Crusaid and Terrence Higgins Trust said recently. Small but significant changes to the law and government regulations could reduce the problem, the groups said.
The associations' report looked at data from the Hardship Fund, which has helped about a quarter of HIV-positive people in the United Kingdom. In 2002, the fund paid almost £660,000 (US$1.05 million) to people living in poverty after being diagnosed with HIV, up 47 percent since 2000. Over 3,180 people received financial assistance last year, compared to 1,960 in 2000. The average weekly income of people applying for help fell from £93.79 (US$149) in 1999 to £65.08 (US$103) in 2002. Figures for 2003 so far appear to show that amount falling again, to £57.21 (US$91) per week.
"The most productive people in our economy -- those who we would normally expect to earn money for themselves through work -- are now in a poverty trap as a result of repeat bouts of ill health and the inability to find work because of stigma and discrimination," said Steven Inman, head of grants and projects at Crusaid and manager of the Hardship Fund. "The data show conclusively that people living with a positive diagnosis are experiencing worsening levels of poverty and, as a result, are turning to the fund in ever greater numbers," he said.
Crusaid and THT called on the government to set up a cross- departmental task force to tackle the rising epidemic of HIV and sexual ill health in the United Kingdom, including measures to fight discrimination against people with HIV and in at-risk communities. Other recommendations included reviewing the benefits system for people with intermittent or relapsing medical conditions such as HIV, good practice guidelines for employers with HIV-positive staff, and better support from health workers for newly diagnosed people.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.