There has been a dramatic increase in poverty levels experienced by people living with HIV in recent years, according to research carried out by the NAT (National AIDS Trust) and Terrence Higgins Trust (THT).
The report ‘Poverty and HIV’ reveals that one in six people diagnosed HIV experienced poverty between 2006 and 2009. The report also states that, without determined Government action the poverty crisis for people living with HIV is set to get worse.
New figures reveal, recipients of grants from the Crusaid Hardship Fund, now run by THT, had an average weekly income of just £42 per week – less than half of the income they had 10 years ago (£93) – most had income at only 20 per cent of the average income for a single person and many have no income at all.
Nick Partridge, Chief Executive of THT said: “The level of poverty people with HIV are experiencing across the UK has dramatically increased over recent years. Where the Hardship Fund used to buy people a fridge or pay for respite care, now it mainly goes on basic survival, food, clothes, a bed.”
The report analyses the underlying reasons why people with HIV face poverty. Over a quarter (29 per cent) of applications to the Hardship Fund cited the immigration system as the primary reason for poverty.
In October 2009, the Government support for single asylum seekers was reduced from £64.30 to £35.13 a week – just £5 a day. A further 17 per cent of applications said that problems relating to the benefits system were their main cause of hardship. Problems included awaiting a benefit decision, changes to the benefit system or delays in receiving benefits they were entitled to.
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT said: “ Charities are picking up the pieces of a poverty crisis in the UK, but there is only so much the sectors limited funds can do. The Government needs to address the underlying causes of this hardship, some of which it has been responsible for creating.
“Granting asylum seekers the right to work after six months and ensuring people are not left in poverty while waiting for their benefits to be processed are two crucial steps that would release many people with HIV out of the poverty trap.”
The report identifies twenty recommendations that would address the root causes of poverty amongst people living with HIV.
To read the report go to www.nat.ork.uk