HIV in Britain Linked to ‘Vicious Circle’ of Social Isolation, Report Says
Individuals who are socially isolated are at a higher risk for HIV in the United Kingdom, according to a report from British HIV/AIDS group Terrence Higgins Trust, BBC News reports. Groups such as immigrants, black Africans and gay men encounter more social exclusion than "mainstream society" and subsequently may encounter more "problems" that put them at risk for contracting HIV, the report said. Further, a "vicious circle" exists whereby social isolation can lead to HIV infection and HIV infection can lead to further isolation. THT CEO Nick Partridge said, "Any chronic health problems can contribute to social exclusion, but HIV can cause particular difficulties due to the prejudice and, frequently, ignorance with which those of us who have the virus are too often treated." The report calls for "concerted government-wide action" to address social exclusion, including Department of Education and Skills efforts to prevent homophobic harassment in schools; Home Office efforts to make treatment information available to immigrants who do not understand the health system or who find themselves in areas without HIV care; the loosening of Department of Employment and Department of Work and Pensions employment and benefit restrictions to cope with long term medical care needs; and prison service efforts to provide condoms and injection equipment cleaning materials to inmates. In addition, the report calls for a "robust" public awareness campaign to "break the stigma of HIV" and the retraining of health care providers to ensure proper HIV care (BBC News, 7/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.