World AIDS Day held on 1 December each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. HIV driving people into extreme poverty in the UK
On World AIDS Day, 1 December, Crusaid and the National AIDS Trust launch a shocking report into the rising numbers of people living with HIV in extreme poverty in the UK.
The report launched to MPs at the House of Commons on World AIDS Day highlights the effect of stigma and discrimination in driving people living with HIV into poverty. Hate crime and discrimination not only have a damaging effect on the physical and mental health of people living with HIV, but can also lead to isolation and poverty. Recent research shows that a third of people living with HIV have experienced discrimination.
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. 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.
Poverty is far too common among people living with HIV. 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.
Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust said:
“It’s shocking that one in three of all people diagnosed with HIV in the UK have experienced real poverty. Much of this poverty now arises from Government policy decisions and from continuing discrimination in society. Urgent action is needed to end the unjust burden of poverty on so many people living with HIV – our report sets out a clear agenda to make this happen.”
Robin Brady, Chief Executive of Crusaid said:
“Poverty in Britain is real. With falling health budgets and an increase in new infections the long-term implications for the HIV voluntary sector make bleak reading. Our report shows how HIV and poverty are intertwined for so many people. It is still shocking that after twenty years Crusaid is still being called upon to help people living with HIV and in poverty. That is why we teamed up with the National AIDS Trust to produce a report that exposes the problems that people living with HIV face on a daily basis.
There is a need to challenge and alleviate the growth in HIV related poverty in the UK. This report highlights the need, and it is time for Government to pick up the responsibility.”