HIV/AIDS in the united Kingdom

  • 11 Pages
  • Published On: 01-11-2023


HIV/AIDS is a global issue that is facing all nations across the globe. Accordingly, as far as the epidemic is concerned the United Kingdom is not spared. Statistics from the UK indicates that UK has relatively small HIV epidemic. As at 2016 approximately over 101 200 people were living with HIV/AIDS. It is noted that the most affected individuals with this epidemic are gays and heterosexual black African women. This report explores the black women and HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom. It examines the views and experiences of the black African women living with HIV/AIDS in the UK. Moreover, it examines the available HIV/AIDS policies and their effectiveness in meeting the sexual health needs of the black women living with HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom. The study only focuses on the black women living with HIV/Aids and only literature that emphasize on the topic is reviewed. Based on the findings from the review of the literature, the report ends with a conclusion and the suggested recommendations.


HIV refers to the immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS. In reality, this virus affects humanity across all ages and races (Townsend, Cortina-Borja, Peckham, de Ruiter, Lyall, and Turkey, 2008). For a long time because of lack of effective medication and treatment, the epidemic has been laced with the stigma associated with homosexuality, immorality, commercial sex and drug use. The epidemic is transmitted through unprotected sex, mother to a baby in the womb and sharing of needles (Nicoll, McGarrigle, Brady, Ades, Tookey, Duong, Mortimer, Cliffe, Goldberg, Tappin, and Peckham, 2008). In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that over 101 200 people are living with HIV/AIDS. Although the epidemic is relatively small in the UK as compares to other nations in the globe, at times diagnosis of HIV remains a challenge. Even with this, cases of declining rates in the epidemic have been reported. For instance in 2014, the figure of those infected reduced to 11% from 24% in 2011 (Delves, Martin, Burton and Roitt, 2016). Although the public health England report revealed diversity in people living with HIV/AIDS, the epidemic is mostly reported among the black communities and more specifically among black heterosexual women. Tariq, Elford, Cortina-Borja, Tookey and on behalf of the National Study of HIV in Pregnancy and Childhood (2012) noted that in the UK HIV/AIDS prevalence among black Africans women was 71 per 1000 women and out of this 31 % were not aware of the infection.


Some policies related to an epidemic in the UK have been set up. To begin with, there exist the criminalizing reckless infection that begun in 2003. The policy stipulates that anybody found fault of infecting other recklessly or intentionally ought to be convicted (Hamill, Burgoine, Farrell, Hemelaar, Patel, Welchew and Jaffe, 2007). Another policy is the cases to treatment and policy. This policy notes that undocumented migrants and asylum seekers diagnosed awaiting deportation are entitled to access GUM services including HIV/AIDS treatment (Schwartländer, Stover, Hallett, Atun, Avila, Gouws, Bartos, Ghys, Opuni, Barr and Alsallaq, 2011). However, a report from the African HIV Policy Network reveals that many immigrants do not see the significance of testing if they cannot access the treatment services. The white paper choosing health of 2004 is another important policy in the UK (Calin, Green, Hetherton, and Brook, 2007; Tariq, Elford, Cortina-Borja, Turkey and on behalf of the National Study of HIV in Pregnancy and Childhood, 2012). Under this policy, the government pledged over twenty pounds to sexual health with the largest shared being allocated to the primary care trust. Finally, the sex and relationship education policy are another policy as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned in the UK. The policy was set up the department of children schools and families in 2000 (Doyal, and Anderson, 2005; Dibb, and Kamalesh, 2012). The policy stipulates how sex education as a key element of science lesson ought to be taught in all schools in the UK.

Although there exist Numerous HIV/AIDS policies in the United Kingdom, the epidemic remains persistent in the nation among black Africans especially women. Although a minority group, making up only 1% of the United Kingdom population, HIV/AIDS has remained largely reported in this group of individuals. This raises the concern to critically examine the experiences of black women living with HIV/Aids and how effective are the existing HIV/AIDS policies in meeting their sexual health needs.


To examine the experiences of black women living with HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom

To interrogate the effectiveness of the existing HIV/AIDS policies in the United Kingdom


The study will make of secondary research. Accordingly, sources such as the book, articles in journals, reports, and dissertations will be used to obtain data. The study will make use of electronic journal services to search for these materials. Keywords to be used include HIV/AID, black women, United Kingdom, HIV policy, infection, people living with, treatment, and care.

The literature search will access only evidence-based literature to provide a clear understanding of the topic under discussion. The inclusion criteria in the literature search are data of black women only which gives clear information about the HIV/AIDS policies and experiences of these individuals. Only women are in the inclusion criteria since the research focuses on black women alone. Demographic details, the policies and HIV/AIDS related services that affect these women are also considered in the criteria.

The exclusion criteria involve any person who is not a black woman and data explain about men and homosexual individuals. The excluding data consisting of people who are not black women is significant because the research is about black women and not everybody’s experiences with HIV/AIDS.


From the review of the literature, the following were the key findings of the study. The findings are discussed the two objectives of this study thematically. Experiences of black women living with HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom From the review, it was noted that the black women living with HIV/AIDS have diverse experiences such include

Unmet needs

Anderson, Elam, Gerver, Solarin, Fenton and Easterbrook (2008).Notes those women in England experience the heights reported undiagnosed heterosexual acquired HIV prevalence. The author further contends that many sexual, health and social needs of black women in England remain unmet. Accordingly, it can be deduced that this makes them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Given the idea that the sexual health of black depends on of their social, economic conditions, for the black women living with HIV/AIDS the situation is worse due to their race and gender. In a way, the black women living with HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom suffer double (due to their race, gender, and stigma that is associated with the epidemic). Given the situation, many of these women are tested late and thus not a position to benefit fully from the available treatment and care. Moreover, Cliffe, Townsend, Cortina-Borja and Newell (2011) articulates that access to treatment services by the black women in the United Kingdom is also limited by the not only stigma and racial discrimination but also joblessness, and uncertain immigrant status of some. Other weapons for late diagnosis include fear of death, lack of political will and lack of African women representation in decision-making processes.

No testing

Many of African women do not test for HIV/AIDS because see it meaningless. However, Sullivan, Curtis, Sabin, and Johnson (2005) notes that a misconception that positive HIV test would lead to deportation is a major reason for many undiagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom among black women.

Non-disclosure of status

There is a lot of hidden HIV/AIDS status among black woman. Haour-Knipe and Rector (2006) notes that compared to the white women, heterosexual black women are less likely to disclose their HIV/AIDS status to their partner, friends, and employers. This lead too many of them denying themselves their entitlement under disability discrimination Act of 2005. It is also significant to note that non-disclosure also has legal effects in light for criminal prosecution for reckless infection.

black women living with HIV/AIDS

As indicated in the introduction part of this report there exist several HIV/AIDS policies in the United Kingdom. In this section, we analyze these policies with an intent of examining whether they are effective in meeting the needs of the black women living with HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom. To begin with, the access to treatment service policy is limited (May, Gompels, Delpech, Porter, Post, Johnson, Dunn, Palfreeman, Gilson, Gazzard and Hill, 2011). The misconception that HIV posting testing can lead to deportation has led to many black women with undocumented immigrant status not to seek services in fear of being deported .this renders this policy irrelevant to these women. Another policy is criminalizing the reckless infection which begun in 2003. Dispute its good intention to reduce HIV transmission among people convicting HIV/IDS victim’s increases the victimization and marginalization that accompanies the infection (Townsend, Cortina‐Borja, Peckham and Tookey, 2008; Dhairyawan, Tariq, Scourse and Coyne, 2013). Accordingly, in the long run, the policy has done more harm than good to the black women who do not even take part in decision making due to gender and race. The white paper choosing health policy aimed at funding HIV treatment. This is very important especially for black women who live in poverty and poor social, economic situations. However, the movement has reduced spending despite the increased number of diagnosed cases of HIV/Aids (Anderson and Doyal, 2004; Ndirangu, and Evans, 2009). This then leads to the unmet needs of these black women living with HIV redoing the third lifespan. In a nutshell, the HIV/AIDS policies in the United Kingdom although geared towards reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, for black women they increase stigma and unmet needs. The above is because many fear deportation, reduced government spending and undocumented immigrant status of some black women.


It was the major goal of this study to examine the experiences of black women living with HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom. Briefly, although HIV/AIDS is a small prevalence in the United Kingdom, there over 101 200 cases of HIV reported cases. The infection is majorly reported among the black African communities with black women being the most affected. This is due to the poor, diverse social, economic status of these people. However, among the black women, there are serval cases of undiagnosed HIV, unmet health needs, non-disclosure of status and not testing at all. These are due to the discrimination, stigma and social misconceptions that accompany HIV/AIDS positive testing. Additionally, unstable immigrant status and joblessness contribute to the above situation. Moreover, some policies related to HIV exist in the United Kingdom these include the criminalizing reckless infection, white paper choosing health, access to treatment among others. Although, aimed at reducing HIV/AIDS transmission and access to health care they affect negatively on the black women. They not only cause stigma but also precipitate unmet HIV needs thus needs to revive.

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Given the above findings, the following recommendations are suggested to improve the situation for the black women with HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom. To begin with, there is need to challenge all the myths and misconception about testing and treating HIV to encourage testing. Knowledge of the state will lead to seeking the services needed thus prolonging the life of these individuals. Additionally, more information and education should be availed to the public about available services of HIV/AIDS. This should be done especially for the black women, and new immigrates to the United Kingdom. Also, condom uses education out to be availed to women and distribution of female condoms to be increasing among the black communities in the United Kingdom. This will help in reducing the transmission of the virus through sex. Black women are living with HIV/ AIDS out to be included in the development and execution of intervention since they play a key role in preventing the transmission and reducing the stigma of discrimination. The above is based on the findings that the major reason for increased unmet needs of black women living with HIV is due to lack of presentation of these women in the decision-making process. There is need to scrub all the racial and gender discrimination practices and policies in the United Kingdom. This will help in reducing the discrimination of these women based on race and gender thus allow them easy access to the basic health needs. Finally, there is the need for continuous research to bring out a clear understanding of the social background and content of HIV among the black women in the United Kingdom, and to develop evidence-based interventions to cater for the needs of these group of individuals.


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Anderson, M., Elam, G., Gerver, S., Solarin, I., Fenton, K. and Easterbrook, P., 2008. HIV/AIDS- related stigma and discrimination: Accounts of HIV-positive Caribbean people in the United Kingdom. Social Science & Medicine, 67(5), pp.790-798.

Calin, T., Green, J., Hetherton, J. and Brook, G., 2007. Disclosure of HIV among black African men and women attending a London HIV clinic. AIDS care, 19(3), pp.385-391.

Cliffe, S., Townsend, C.L., Cortina-Borja, M. and Newell, M.L., 2011. Fertility intentions of HIV- infected women in the United Kingdom. AIDS care, 23(9), pp.1093-1101.

Delves, P.J., Martin, S.J., Burton, D.R. and Roitt, I.M., 2016. Roitt's essential immunology. John Wiley & Sons.

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Dibb, B. and Kamalesh, T., 2012. Exploring positive adjustment in HIV positive African women living in the UK. AIDS care, 24(2), pp.143-148.

Doyal, L. and Anderson, J., 2005. ‘My fear is to fall in love again…’How HIV-positive African women survive in London. Social Science & Medicine, 60(8), pp.1729-1738.

Hamill, M., Burgoine, K., Farrell, F., Hemelaar, J., Patel, G., Welchew, D.E. and Jaffe, H.W., 2007. Time to move towards opt-out testing for HIV in the UK. British medical journal, 7608, p.1352.

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Schwartländer, B., Stover, J., Hallett, T., Atun, R., Avila, C., Gouws, E., Bartos, M., Ghys, P.D., Opuni, M., Barr, D. and Alsallaq, R., 2011. Towards an improved investment approach for an effective response to HIV/AIDS. The Lancet, 377(9782), pp.2031-2041.

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