Vulnerable HIV patient inside detention centre where Covid is rife ‘left without life-saving treatment for 7 days’

Vulnerable HIV patient inside detention centre where Covid is rife ‘left without life-saving treatment for 7 days’

A vulnerable HIV patient held inside an immigration detention centre has been “left without life-saving treatment and his antidepressants for seven days.”

The man, 42, who has asked to remain anonymous, relies on the treatment to reduce his viral load to undetectable levels – but a Covid-19 outbreak that has ripped through the centre has caused great concern for his untreated viral load and immune system.

All of the #Jamaica50 detainees in Charlie and Induction Wing of Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre near to Heathrow Airport have had their tickets cancelled for Wednesday’s flight (November 10) due to the outbreak, MyLondon has learned.

It is unconfirmed whether detainees from other wings have also had their tickets cancelled for Wednesday.

Colnbrook has gone into lockdown because of the rising number of cases, meaning no outside visitors are allowed to see loved ones.

The Home Office revealed on Friday that the man is no longer facing removal from the UK for Wednesday’s flight, but he remains fearful for his life because detainees testing positive for Covid-19 are mixing with those testing negative inside communal areas and outside in the courtyard.

He also suffers from severe mental health issues, and takes a combination of anti-psychotics and antidepressants for paranoid schizophrenia, depression and PTSD.

The man has been prescribed a specific dosage antidepressants for 10 years, but has been denied it since arriving at the centre.

“I don’t know what to do, because they’re stopping all my medication, I’m going mad – the voices are slowly coming back into my head and that’s the one thing I don’t want,” he said.

“Once the voices come back into my head, I become worse and even more paranoid.”

This is the man’s first time inside Colnbrook, after he was awoken to a loud banging inside his Birmingham home at 5.30am on Monday, 1 November and was promptly transported to the centre.

“They kicked the front door off, and then they came to my bedroom door – I heard ‘boom boom’, then they were holding me down in bed,” he added.

He says the last time he had access to his HIV treatment was last Monday, but has since been left without it, despite pleading with medical staff.

It takes just a few days for a viral load to regress and rise again, meaning the man is more vulnerable of catching life-threatening infections.

He’s accused medical staff of acting in an unprofessional manner, having denied some of his medication and “joking” at his situation.

He continued: “I’m getting annoyed, I’ve been on medication for 10 years and they want to stop it. They don’t even know me.

“The doctors are no good, I spoke to one and he had a big attitude problem towards me. So I said, ‘what’s your problem?’ I told him he can’t treat people like this.

“Everything I’ve been going through is one big joke to them.”

Dr Laura Waters, chair of the British HIV Association, warned the Home Office that denying his treatment is a breach of his human rights.

She told The Independent earlier today: “People awaiting deportation are entitled to continuation of any treatment they are already on, not just for HIV, so it is wrong for the Home Office to have allowed any of his essential medication to be stopped – this is a breach of his human rights.”

The Home Office is now being threatened with legal action having denied the man his life-saving treatment, The Independent revealed in the same article.

Like other detainees, the man is being deported by the Home Office for previous criminal convictions which were committed and served in the UK – a drug offence and one case of common assault.

He first arrived in the UK in 1990 when he was nine years old.

After losing five family members in the space of less than three months, the man suffered a mental breakdown in prison.

He adds: “I’ve come out of jail and I’ve kept myself to myself. All of a sudden I’m not doing anything wrong – but I’m told I’m in breach (of living in the UK). I said I cannot be in breach, I’ve got no letters – I’ve had nothing, that’s the case for me at the moment, it’s just hard and my medication is not right.”

He is a recovering heroin addict following his breakdown and relies on 50ml of methadone to treat his addiction, but is suffering from hot and cold sweats and lack of sleep after he was reduced to a considerably lower dosage of 15ml then 25ml by medical professionals at the centre.

Karen Doyle, national organiser of campaign group, Movement for Justice, says suffering an acute methadone withdrawal is “worse than a heroin withdrawal.”

She told MyLondon: “If you don’t lower it incrementally then people going into withdrawal suffer a really awful withdrawal that’s worse than a heroin withdrawal.”

Three people with no criminal convictions have been taken off the upcoming flight following mounting media pressure.

Wednesday’s flight is the fourth mass deportation flight since the 2018 Windrush scandal.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All Immigration Removal Centres have dedicated, 24-hr on site medical facilities including access to independent doctors and nurses.

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