Foreign nationals to be offered HIV treatment for free
New government plans will see foreign nationals able to receive HIV treatment from the NHS for free.
It is believed that the move will reduce costs in the long run because it will cut the need for expensive future treatments and reduce the risk of many Brits becoming infected with the disease.
At presents migrants are ineligible for such treatment as it is available for British nationals only.
Estimates suggest that in Britain at present there are currently somewhere in the region of 25,000 who have HIV but have not yet been diagnosed, many of which are people which have to this country from overseas.
Unlike with other infectious diseases, foreign nationals are required to pay for treatment if a diagnosis is made.
Lord Fowler, the former Tory cabinet minister who led the governments AIDS awareness programme during the 1980s, has urged Whitehall to make an amendment to the Heath and Social Care Bill as soon as possible.
Under his proposal people who have been in the UK for a period of six months or more will quality for the care.
This idea has now been backed by the government and will come into force as part of a Statutory Instrument rather than as a piece of legislation.
Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "This measure will protect the public and brings HIV treatment in to line with all other infectious diseases. Treating people with HIV means they are very unlikely to pass the infection on to others.
She added: “Tough guidance will ensure this measure is not abused.”
Yusef Azad, director of policy at the National Aids Trust, stated: "If someone is tested and treated early, it is much cheaper than them presenting themselves in hospital with a much more serious, complex condition that can cost tens of thousands of pounds to treat."
According to a UNAids report, the number of HIV infections in 2010 was 21 per cent down on its peak in 1997.