U.K. High Court Rules Government Must Reconsider Decision to Deny Milk Tokens for Infant Formula to HIV-Positive Asylum Seeker
The United Kingdom's High Court on Monday ruled that the Home Secretary should reconsider his decision to refuse milk tokens to an HIV-positive asylum seeker with an HIV-negative infant and forbade him from appealing the decision, Reuters Health reports. Although those seeking asylum in the United Kingdom are not usually permitted income support, including milk tokens to exchange for infant formula, the court ruled that Home Secretary David Blunkett "ignored" the risk of HIV transmission from the woman to her infant through breastfeeding when he denied the benefit, according to Child Poverty Action Group attorney Sarah Clark, who represented the woman (Reuters Health, 7/29). The woman, known only as "T," claimed asylum from Ethiopia in July 1999, had her claim refused in March 2001 and is waiting for her claim to be appealed. T tested positive for HIV in December, but her four-month-old daughter has so far tested negative (Aston, London Independent, 7/30). Clark said she was "delighted" by the ruling, adding, "The Home Office's refusal to provide milk tokens has exposed babies to the very real risk of HIV infection. The ruling means that other mothers in a similar predicament should get the same help." CPAG Director Martin Barnes said, "It is a tragedy that such an important public health issue has had to be dragged all the way to the courts" (Reuters Health, 7/29). CPAG, along with the British Medical Association, the Terrence Higgins Trust and the Refugee Council, supports a campaign to provide milk tokens to all mothers seeking asylum (Dyer, London Guardian, 7/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.