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International News

Great Britain: HIV Student to Be Deported "to Her Death" in Malawi

August 12, 2003

Home Secretary David Blunkett has been accused of signing the death warrant of an HIV-positive Malawian student by ordering her deportation from Britain.

The student, who lives near Oxford, came to England to visit friends in 1999 and sought to remain to take a computer studies course. After two years, she became ill and tested HIV-positive at the Radcliffe infirmary, where doctors initiated antiretroviral therapy. Dr. Evan Harris, who is the Liberal Democrats' health spokesperson, requested that the Home Office grant her exceptional leave status on compassionate grounds to allow treatment to continue.

The student's plea was rejected; she remains in Britain pending an appeal.

According to Harris, the treatment the student is receiving is unavailable to 59 out of every 60 HIV/AIDS patients in her native Malawi. He argues, "European case law prohibits sending sick people back to a country where they will suffer physical harm amounting to inhuman treatment."

But Britain's Home Office maintains that "Whilst the Secretary of State [David Blunkett] appreciates such treatment may not necessarily be comparable to what is available in this country, she cannot be viewed as being any more disadvantaged than any other Malawi national with similar medical needs in that country."

The deportation of the Malawian student comes as some are questioning the National Health System's hiring of Malawian nurses, in spite of a plea by Nelson Mandela not to poach workers from Africa's overstretched health systems. From 2001-2002, Britain hired 75 nurses from the country -- nearly a third of the number trained there each year. "The government then has the cheek to send the handful of patients which Britain is treating back to those countries and their shattered health care systems," said Harris.

Back to other news for August 12, 2003

Adapted from:
Guardian (London)
08.08.03; John Carvel

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More News on HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom