The National AIDS Trust says it’s appalled by a Tory amendment to the Immigration Bill that would restrict the movement of people with HIV and Hepatitis B from coming to the UK.
In a statement to PinkNews.co.uk, NAT Chief Executive Deborah Jack said: “This amendment shows that there remains a shameful lack of understanding about HIV among some of our elected representatives.
“UNAIDS has shown conclusively that entry restrictions on people living with HIV do not protect public health and are a wasteful diversion in the fight against HIV. And far from being ‘drains’ on the public purse – as this amendment seems to suggest – people living with HIV contribute hugely to the UK’s society and economy.”
Ms Jack added: “The UK has for 30 years resisted entry restrictions and to introduce them at this stage would set us squarely against the international trend to overturn such rules. This is HIV prejudice in its purest form.”
“If these MPs are really interested in protecting public health through immigration policy, they would oppose the current Department of Health plans to limit migrant access to primary care services, which are vital for disease prevention and early treatment.
“They would support efforts to reduce the unacceptable high rates of late and undiagnosed HIV in our community.”
The amendment has been introduced by Dr Phillip Lee, the Conservative MP for Bracknell, a former doctor.
Another former GP, the Conservative MP for Totnes, Dr Sarah Wollaston, is also supporting the proposal.
The following MPs, all Conservatives, have added their names to the amendment: Stephen Phillips, Stephen Barclay, Tracey Crouch, Dominic Raab, Graham Brady, Charlotte Leslie, Mark Field, Nigel Mills, Jonathan Djanogly, Chris Kelly, Bob Blackman, Jonathan Lord, Craig Whittaker, Conor Burns, Karl McCartney and Sir Gerald Howarth.
The Immigration Bill is currently being debated in the House of Commons.
Earlier, the Home Office distanced itself from the amendment, saying it does not reflect existing government policy and that it has no plans to introduce health screening for conditions such as HIV or hepatitis.
Officials state that the UK has also signed up to the June 2011 UN Declaration on HIV and AIDS, which encourages member states to eliminate HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence.