HIV stigma and discrimination is driving people living with the virus into extreme poverty, a report revealed today.
AIDS charities Crusaid and the National AIDS Trust launched a report into the rising numbers of people living with HIV in poverty to coincide with World AIDS Day this morning.
The report calls for action in tackling the root causes of poverty among people living with HIV, including addressing high levels of hate crime, unemployment and poor housing among people living with HIV.
It criticises policies restricting asylum seekers right to work and appallingly low benefits also means that many HIV positive asylum seekers are living in substandard housing and are unable to afford basic food and clothing.
Since it was established in 1986, one in three people diagnosed with HIV have turned to the Crusaid Hardship Fund for support. In 2005, the average income of applicants to the Hardship Fund fell to £60 per week, while the number of applications for basic needs such as food and clothing has risen.
The document highlights examples of discrimination aimed at HIV sufferers.
One case study, John, 36, was diagnosed four years ago. After a fall out with his long-term partner, his HIV status and home address were displayed on a card in his local shop window, warning people that he was an ‘AIDS carrier’.
A few days later, John came home from work to find two guys in his flat. They beat him with chair legs, putting him in hospital for six days.
John said: ” I spent years coming to terms with living with HIV, then just one person turned my life around through pure spite.”
The report recommends that the government and police address, “HIV related hate crime and enforce policies on HIV related domestic violence.”
It calls on public sector bodies to “introduce HIV awareness training and act as champions to encourage the private sector to break down barriers to employment for people living with HIV.
Additionally it urges local authorities to prioritise the housing and social care needs of people living with HIV particularly those with poor health.