African Immigrants Take Up ‘Significant Chunks’ of British Health System, Survey Says
African immigrants with HIV account for "significant chunks" of the U.K. National Health Service's HIV/AIDS care, the Washington Times reports. A recent survey by the Times of London found that African immigrants accounted for 80% of new HIV cases reported in the United Kingdom last year. Africans also composed nearly 25% of the total number of people in the country living with HIV. According to the Times of London, many Africans who seek treatment at U.K. hospitals say they are on vacation, others are asylum seekers and are therefore entitled to free health care, and others had been recruited by the government to work in the United Kingdom as teachers or nurses. The influx has strained the NHS, which is already experiencing "longer waiting lists for routine operations, insufficient money for medical drugs and low pay for staff," according to the Times of London and former member of Parliament Robert Kilroy-Silk, a U.K. talk show host. Kilroy-Silk added that language barriers, which necessitate translators, are also driving up costs and slowing down care. In a column in the Sunday Express, he said, "It's no wonder we have a Third World health service. It's because we've become the health service for the Third World." However, Jean-Emil Yebga, spokesperson for Blackliners, a support group for HIV-positive blacks, said most Africans in need of treatment do not receive it because they are afraid for their immigration status. The Times of London said that the government needs to create new guidelines spelling out exactly who is and is not eligible for free medical treatment at U.K. health centers. Currently, many doctors do not question a patient's legal status before providing care (Martin, Washington Times, 7/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.