Monday 6 April 2015

Read All About It: HIV Treatment For Foreign Nationals

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I was on holiday when the debates aired, so I didn’t catch them live. I watched them on catch up the next night, knowing it would totally dampen the relaxed holiday vibe I had going on. It took us two hours to watch the first 40 minutes of the debate, because we had to keep stopping and ranting at the television. And pouring more gin, of course.

I knew that the debate was going to annoy me. I hate how politicians speak in half truths and misinformation, manipulating facts for their own means, and focusing more on great soundbites than the actual truth. This is infuriating enough when it’s the main parties doing this, but when hate-fuelled idiots like Nigel Farage are invited into my living room to spew their racist crap all over my carpet, it really makes me gin boil.

Nigel Farage is a tiresome bigot who adopts a stance of self-proclaimed bravery at being the person to say ridiculously idiotic things in the media. As though it takes some kind of guts to say sexist and racist things out loud. Damn those pay-deducting wombs.

During the debates, Nigel Farage very nearly caused my head to explode by implying that the NHS is in crisis because there are 7,000 diagnoses for HIV on the NHS each year, and that 60% percent of these are for foreign nationals. Obviously, this was manipulated nonsense. And thank goodness the internet exists so that it’s easy to see how many lies our politicians regurgitate during election season. If you’re interested in the facts about HIV diagnoses on the NHS, you can find them here. To summarise, Farage exaggerated the number of new diagnoses by over 16%. He also, perhaps unsurprisingly, exaggerated the number of foreign nationals diagnosed. When he talked about  the (greatly exaggerated) number of foreign nationals diagnosed with HIV, he failed to mention that many of these may have been infected whilst in the UK. It’s hardly the attention grabbing story of health tourism he tried to spin, is it?

Offering HIV treatment free to foreign nationals on the NHS only came into effect in 2012, so it can hardly be blamed for crippling the NHS. Not only that, but experts welcomed the move as a way of reducing the strain on the NHS by ensuring diagnosis and treatment for an increased number of those infected, thus reducing the spread of this infection.
When the free treatment was introduced, Lisa Power, Policy Director for Terrence Higgins Trust (who let’s just assume knows a little bit more than Nigel Farage does about this issue), said: “We strongly support this move by the Government to bring HIV in line with all the other sexually transmitted infections which are free from charge on public health grounds. It makes no sense to deny people medication that dramatically reduces the risk of them passing on their infection to others. Leaving people without treatment also means the NHS pays far more further down the line when someone’s health fails and they need emergency care. These changes will protect more people from HIV infection in the UK and will save the NHS money in the longer term.”

Nigel Farage claims to believe that the NHS should be there for the ‘British people’ who have been paying into it for years. But that’s not the point of the NHS, is it? You don’t have to pay into it to enjoy the health care offered. My daughter hadn’t worked a day in her life (lazy), and yet the doctors didn’t turn her away when she was admitted with pneumonia as a baby. The quality of care you receive isn’t based on how much you’ve paid in, and thank goodness, because what a horrible world that would be. And yet, we know that UKIP are in favour of privatising the NHS, and creating a tiered healthcare system like they have in the US. You know, the US, the place we all gaze at and think ‘Wow, what a great healthcare system they have...’

With that in mind, Farage’s arguments for saving the NHS are even more ludicrous, when we know he has little intention of ever doing that. It appears it was simply another great way to get a dig in at those damn foreign nationals that are totally ruining our country’s health service. You know the ones I mean, our hardworking doctors and nurses. Tut.

What was most horrific about Farage’s comments, was the fact that they were seen as vote worthy. Not by the other politicians, of course, or by the audience who cheered at Leanne Wood’s response, true. But for it to have been said on television, UKIP must have felt it was going to attract positive attention.

And it did, which is just about the most sickening thing to have come out of this election so far. According to a YouGov poll, 50 percent of those questioned supported the idea that people coming to live in the UK being banned from receiving treatment on the NHS for a period of five years. Half of the people who will have the ability to vote for change in just a few weeks time, thought that Nigel Farage had made a good point. They weren’t outraged, sickened or disgusted with his comments. They thought he made sense.

Ok, I know the far right appeals to some people. Hateful people. Disturbed people. I know that, but I always assumed those people were a sick and twisted minority, not that they made up half of those eligible to vote. How have we ended up in a place where we support the refusal of free healthcare to those in need? Why are we approaching the election with an ‘us v them’ attitude? Why are people in support of the idea that basic human rights should only be available to certain people?

Nigel Farage seems to think we should put ‘our own people first’. Well, I think that’s a great idea. The 50 percent of voters who support Farage’s offensive suggestion are not my people. Not at all. So yeah, let’s put our own people first. The ones who need it. The ones who believe basic human rights should be available for all. And for those of you who don’t, for those of you who feel your birthplace guarantees you a higher place in the hierarchy, you are not my people.


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