KEY FINDINGS IN THE REPORT ARE:
- The number of benefit changes individuals go through make a significant difference to their health and well-being.
- The medical assessments of PIP and ESA are failing to addressing the psychological impact of HIV and the variable impact of the condition on day-to-day life.
- There are significant reductions in the services offered by HIV charities.
- Women from black and minority Ethnic communities, Latin Americans and white gay men over 50 are hardest hit by welfare reform.
- There are serious mental health issues caused by the shame and stigma that respondents feel when applying for benefits.
A new report highlighting the damaging impact welfare reforms are having upon people living with HIV.
Based on a survey of 287 people diagnosed with HIV across England the report found that two-thirds of were affected by benefit changes, with nine out of ten reporting poorer health and limited access to HIV care as a result.
Handling of the reforms is criticised in the report, in particular assessments and their failure in supporting some of the most vulnerable in our community. In the words of one person living with HIV, “I had to appeal against my medical assessment. When it went to appeal it was given to me and not only that they decided I should have been in support group of ESA. This is so stressful and makes problems worse when having to appeal and money reduced until it is sorted.”
As a result the Counterpoint Policy Alliance is launching a new campaign ‘No-one should leave the clinic hungry’ to raise awareness of these problems. “We need to bring this issue to the attention of the NHS, MPs, Local Authorities and all those who can help change these punitive policies. Anyone who doesn’t have enough to eat will suffer poor health, and this is worse if you are living with HIV in getting the right foods to keep fit and healthy. If we don’t act now this problem could become a crisis for many people living with HIV.”