Do UK taxpayers pay for America’s HIV phobia?

I’ve written before about America’s nonsensical ban on HIV-positive immigrants — a provision which puts the States in the illustrious company of such shining protectors of human rights as Libya and Iraq. Andrew Sullivan, a stalwart of the US political bloggosphere and an HIV-positive not-quite-immigrant, raises the issue again in an editorial in the Washington Post and on his blog. He’s concerned that current attempts to repeal the ban may be thwarted.

That would be bad for America — the country is losing out on potentially talented immigrants and entrenching its reputation for “do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do” foreign policy. But taxpayers in other countries, countries that don’t discriminate against immigrants because they’ve got a virus or against human beings because they can’t afford private health insurance, may be picking up the tab for this HIV-phobia.

The UK has seen a rash of new HIV diagnoses among young gay men; of new cases diagnosed since 2000, 28% have been “imported” by gay men infected elsewhere. Among heterosexuals, the proportion is above 80%. Many of these people, especially the younger ones, are language students who need to be in an English speaking country. Some may have preferred to study in the States. But because of the ban on immigration for HIV-positives, they won’t even apply for visas there.

I’m pleased that the UK welcomes all-comers. I’m pleased that the country cares for people who are sick or in need of care, regardless of what is in their wallets. I think that most immigrants contribute more to a nation’s economy than they take out of it, even if they are on expensive antiretroviral treatment. But it is nonetheless likely that UK tax payers are paying for HIV treatment for an ever higher number of people in part because no-one in need of treatment can go to the States.

This post was published on 16/05/08 in Ideology and HIV.

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  1. Comment by Chris Green, 17/05/08, 08:39:

    But remember: if they were in the States, they’d almost certainly have to pay (very heavily!) for their own treatment – assuming they had no insurance; if they have insurance, they’d not be a burden on the UK taxpayer either. If you were HIV-positive and studying English, which would you choose?

  2. Comment by Chuck Bird, 20/05/08, 02:58:

    Elizabeth, with respect I have great difficulty following your logic. Firstly, you criticise the Untied States for not allowing HIV+ people to immigrate then you say that is putting a burden on the UK taxpayers. If HIV+ immigrants are a burden on the UK taxpayers, why would they not be a burned on the US taxpayer?

    Every country’s first obligation is to protect is citizens. There are two issues – firstly, the cost to the taxpayer and secondly the safety of its citizens.

    In 1998 or 1999 the government of New Zealand passed a law that banned HIV+ people from migrating to New Zealand. Shortly after coming into power in 1999 the Labour government changed that policy. This was politically driven from the Rainbow Branch of the Labour Party.

    It took a number of years for the numbers of heterosexual infections to increase. The government had even stopped screening migrants for HIV and did not know how many HIV+ immigrants been allowed in the country from southern Africa.

    After a public outcry the policy was modified so that only 20 HIV+ refugees were allowed in the country per year. There have definitely been infections between HIV+ migrants and New Zealand citizens. It is hard to get accurate figures as the homosexual lobby has a lot of influence on all HIV+ policy whether it is about immigration, blood donation or the responsible of an HIV+ person to notify their sexual partners.

    If condoms were 98% effective in the prevention of HIV as you claim and there was a legal obligation for any HIV+ to tell their sexual partner of HIV status then there may be an valid case for allowing HIV+ migrants into a country.

    This is not the case and any country that allows HIV+ people to immigrant is failing in its first duty to its people.

    I believe the United States has put its citizens’ welfare first unlike Britain when it comes to immigration policy. This does not just apply to HIV+ potential immigrants but potential terrorists as well. This has cost the lives of some British people and could have cost the lives of thousands more if the terrorists have succeeded in blowing up the planes fly across the Atlantic.

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