Wild Things

Have AIDS, Will Travel

March 07, 2012

Reports have shown major mismanagement of monies allotted to fight AIDS, most notably in London, where 30,000 victims reside. Of 17 AIDS projects in the capital, only two “merited continued commissioning.” A year later all 17 were still receiving full funding. 

There are also increasing intra-rainbow wrangles about who should get the most cash, with the well-funded (and overwhelmingly white) homosexual organizations facing increasing competition from African activists. Africans constitute 32% of newly diagnosed AIDS sufferers despite making up only around 3% of the total UK population. The African Health Policy Network (AHPN) is proud to aver that it

…has used research to lobby the Home Office to delay the removal of people living with HIV from the UK until antiretroviral treatment becomes more widely accessible and has provided the Government with 10 key asks to improve the health and wellbeing of Africans in the UK.

These benefactors of Britain may as well ask an 11th ask—better diagram-drawing software. As if the world’s worst diagrams weren’t enough of a hindrance to African health and happiness, AHPN’s efforts are also hampered by well-meaning interventions from enthusiastic amateurs such as Forbes Rich Lister Pastor T. B. Joshua, whose cheerily ecumenical Synagogue Church of All Nations offers “cancer-healing” and “HIV-AIDS healing” thanks to “anointing water” which allows patients to dispense with the inconvenience of antiretrovirals. The church’s methods have met with signal success, with at least three sufferers already raptured away to Higher Ground. Meanwhile, even AIDS specialists can get distracted by domestic problems.

Another key consideration is indirect discrimination by the (too white, too straight, boo) medical establishment. As long ago as December 2009, the Guardian’s Hazel Barrett was losing sleep, fearing there were 

…very few culturally sensitive outreach sexual health promotion programs aimed at different immigrant groups from high HIV-prevalence source regions in the west Midlands.

Faced with all this and more, Lord Fowler and his committee chums want to amend the Health and Social Care Bill to extend free treatment to all who have been in the UK for six months or longer, and ministers have promised to incorporate it—without running a cost-benefit analysis. There have been grumbles that the NHS can’t afford this and that the policy will merely encourage “health tourism”—a practice politicians profess to oppose and which is already losing the NHS millions. Public health minister Anne Milton promised that “tough guidance will ensure this measure is not abused”—this tough guidance no doubt something like the tough guidance presently governing immigration policy. 

But the cynics who mutter about potential problems are missing the point. It doesn’t matter if the new policy does encourage thousands more AIDS victims to holiday or study in Britain, or if the £1bn becomes 2, 3, or even 4. After all, as his Lordship says, with all his customary close reasoning:

The case for change is overwhelming in human terms. The proposal almost speaks for itself and every group is in favor of this change.

I can think of at least one group that has never been asked for its opinion.

 

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