Accessing HIV prevention, testing, treatment care and support as a migrant with irregular status in Europe

Given the persistence of poverty in many countries and its association with demographic change, the presence of migrants with irregular status in Europe will continue to increase, irrespective of factors related to conflicts and/or environmental conditions. It is thus increasingly urgent to improve access to healthcare, a task that cannot be delegated to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or civil society alone. Many international instruments refer to the universal right to healthcare, regardless of one’s status. “The range of international texts that ensure people’s basic and universal right to healthcare is impressive. They include binding state commitments under the United Nations, the Council of Europe and European Union agreements, and an even greater body of ‘soft’ recommendations issued by their respective institutions and agencies. However (editor’s note) in practice, these texts often remain just words rather than effective guarantees for universally accessible healthcare system.”

People without documents face tremendous difficulty accessing healthcare systems. As such, in each of the selected countries, this study analyses the primary barriers that exist when attempting to access healthcare. Often, the most limiting barriers include restrictive national or regional regulations, high financial costs of care, bureaucratic and administrative obstacles, etc., This study also outlines procedures and policies that facilitate access to HIV healthcare regardless of legal status.

Denying treatment to migrants with irregular status perpetuates HIV transmission and undermines efforts aimed at controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Furthermore, interruptions to HIV treatment can lead to illness, the development of drug resistance and death.