Health department to meet island’s HIV Support Group

David Anderson, the Health Minister

David Anderson, the Health Minister

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The Department of Health and the Isle of Man HIV Support Group are to meet to discuss the government’s refusal to publish figures relating to the number of people who are HIV-positive in the island.

Health Minister David Anderson said in the House of Keys on June 11 that the government did not know exactly how many HIV cases there were, as not all cases are diagnosed and some residents travel to centres in the UK for testing and treatment.

The statement came in response to a question from Douglas South MHK Kate Beecroft, who asked what measures he had put in place to make HIV statistics in the Isle of Man publicly available.

Mr Anderson continued by saying: ‘The number of people who are HIV positive in the Isle of Man is very small and in view of this we need to exercise extreme caution in publishing figures by age, group, sex, race, risk category etc, since the number of individuals in some of the categories are so small that it could lead to the identification of the individuals concerned.

‘It is extremely important that the department ensures complete confidentiality for all its patients, but especially for patients with potentially stigmatising conditions such as HIV.’

This prompted the IoM HIV Support Group to contact the Health Department saying that their helpline had been busy with people saying that they felt cut off and vulnerable.

A 2012 Health Protection Agency report on HIV in the United Kingdom showed that in 2011 there had been eight new cases of HIV in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man combined.

The Support Group and the Terence Higgins Trust both contacted the health minister and chief minister, Allan Bell, to ask where the above figures were sourced from, and what information they are based on.

It was confirmed on Friday by the Support Group that they have been invited to meet with the Department of Health and a suitable date is being arranged.

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