Charity hits out at HIV test proposals

The Terrence Higgins Trust has launched an e-campaign against leaked Government plans to introduce compulsory HIV tests for all asylum seekers.

"We're very concerned about the message this policy would send out, about both HIV and asylum seekers," said Martin Kirk, campaigns manager for the Terrence Higgins Trust.

The trust has been collaborating informally with refugee charities on issues of common concern. "Different communities have different profiles of prejudice towards HIV, and there is a real worry that people feel they have to be very underground about their HIV status," Kirk said.

The charity has accused the Government of bowing to pressure from the anti-immigration lobby, and reacting to media coverage linking NHS capacity problems and an increase in cases of TB, hepatitis and HIV to asylum seekers.

"There is no evidence that such tests would benefit public health at all, and we think it is morally indefensible to deny a person refuge because of their health status," said Kirk.

The campaign directs supporters to a microsite where they can send a letter to their MP and local paper.

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