Letter of the week: Asylum is not healthcare

Martin Narey's argument for granting asylum to a woman and her son on the grounds that they were HIV-positive ("Moral outrage", 13 November) would set a dangerous precedent. It is estimated that there are 40 million people worldwide with HIV, and doubtless millions more with potentially lethal but treatable diseases. What kind of strain would the NHS be under if it were charged with treating all of these people? Where would they be housed? What would be the cost to the taxpayer?

I believe internationally funded centres for treatment and education in the worst-affected countries are the only option if governments are seriously to tackle the problem of Aids. Furthermore, the UN, of which Britain is a member, defines a refugee as someone with "a well-founded fear of being persecuted". The refugee system was not devised as a system of international healthcare.

Richard Seabrook

This article first appeared in the 04 December 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Nation of fools