This report features the cases of 35 Medical Justice clients who were being detained at some point in the 18 months between June 2009 and November 2010. They all faced removal to countries where they would potentially be unable to continue treatment for their HIV infection.
80% of the cases are female. There were a small number of children and teenagers. 80% discovered their HIV infection after their arrival in the UK. Some individuals only learned of their HIV infection after they were screened in detention. Several people reported contracting HIV after being sexually assaulted.
Interruptions and disruptions in antiretroviral therapy occur repeatedly in detention. 60% experienced disruptions in their medication as a result of failures by staff in detention centres to provide drugs, failures to facilitate external appointments, failures to ensure that people were given medication en route to detention centres, and administrative errors. One person was given a significant overdose of her medication in detention.
Three people were so afraid of being deported that they hoarded their drugs and, subsequently, attempted to overdose in an effort to end their own lives.
When detained, people may be subjected to clinical practices which are demeaning, degrading, and which in some cases may have worsened their condition. 66% had their right to quality primary and secondary clinical care (in ways other than those set out above) violated. These included practices putting people at risk of contracting opportunistic infections, failures to adequately investigate symptoms indicative of HIV.
infection, failures to respect the confidentiality of detainees and failures to carry out or pass on the results of tests to determine resistance to particular medications. Some people were forced to undergo consultations whilst handcuffed to escorts.