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Government 'failing Aids refugees'
Asylum seekers
Many asylum seekers are sent to centres across the UK
The government's policy of dispersing refugees across the UK means some patients with HIV and Aids are not receiving the care they need, experts have warned.

Social workers believe that sending refugees to various parts of the country is preventing many people from getting hospital treatment or basic medical care.

At a conference on Wednesday, experts called on the government to develop a coordinated policy to help refugees.

They said the current system was in utter chaos and was confusing for asylum seekers.


The position at present is utter chaos and confusion for asylum seekers especially if they are HIV positive

Derek Lennard, Mildmay Hospital, London

Social workers told the conference, which is being held at Mildmay Hospital in East London, that refugees with HIV and Aids or with a disability needed special medical care and assistance.

They added that patients with these conditions needed regular medical supervision, special diets, psychological help and good social support.

But they said the current dispersal policy meant many individuals were being placed in unsuitable areas with sub-standard accommodation and were unable to get the medical help they needed.

They said it also meant many people were being deprived of help because they were separated from family and friends who could care for them.

'Utter chaos'

Derek Lennard, a social worker and counsellor at Mildmay, and chairman of the conference, criticised the current policy.

"The position at present is utter chaos and confusion for asylum seekers especially if they are HIV positive or have a disability.

"Current provision is in disarray. We hope this conference will help pool information to provide recommendations for the best way forward."

He said people with HIV and Aids needed to get proper medical care.

"It is not the fault of the asylum seekers if they become terminally ill.

"If that were you, seperated from the rest of your family and community, unable to return to your country and absolutely penniless, you would want someone to do the humane thing and support you in your time of need."

A spokeswoman for Terence Higgins Trust Lighthouse said it did not think refugees with HIV or Aids should be dispersed across the UK.

"There is a problem with asylum seekers getting the treatment they need if they are dispersed to areas where they may find it hard to access medical treatment.

"We have been saying that these people should not be dispersed."

See also:

18 Aug 99 | Medical notes
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