On 5 May 2005 the House of Lords delivered a judgment on the matter of ‘N’ ( UKHL31). It ruled that deportation of a person living with HIV to a country where s/he was unlikely to receive adequate HIV treatment was not incompatible with their right to be free of inhumane treatment under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In concluding their written judgment, the Lords made it clear that the Home Office can exercise discretion in deciding not to return such individuals to their home countries, but that if it decides on deportation, it will not be operating in breach of human rights legislation. The European Courts for Human Rights reinforced this position in May 2008.
In the view of a number of HIV advocates, this decision essentially authorises many HIV-positive people living in the UK to be removed to their countries of origin without access to lifesaving treatment.
The African HIV Policy Network (AHPN) believes that there is a clear contradiction between the UK's policy aim of universal access to HIV treatment for all those who need it by 2010 and the removal of people living with HIV who are on treatment to countries where treatment is not readily available or affordable.
The withdrawal of treatment increases the body's vulnerability to opportunistic infection and will result in drastically shortened life expectancy.
There are strong public health arguments for allowing a concession. Those awaiting removal may go underground and fail to keep appointments resulting in an increased risk of opportunistic infection with the need for emergency treatment and an increased risk of onward transmission.
The UK is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 12(1) requires states to ‘recognise the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’.
The “Destination Unknown” Campaign is calling the Home Office to delay the removal of people living with HIV, who are on treatment, from the United Kingdom until antiretroviral treatment becomes more widely available and accessible.
We, the undersigned, would like to express our opposition to the deportation of people living with HIV, who are on treatment, whose health and life will be put at risk if removed to countries where treatment may not be available or accessible. The UK has led the global campaign for universal access to HIV treatment by 2010.
Denying treatment to people at home contradicts the UK's international position. I therefore add my name to around 800 signed campaign tools in support of the DU campaign.
The Destination Unknown - continued access to lifesaving HIV treatment petition to UK Government (Home office) was written by AHPN and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.