A HIV positive man living in Brighton has gone on treatment strike, in a bid to get his local council to provide the care he feels he and his partner are being denied.
Paul Ward (40) and his partner Martin Ward (44, who is also HIV positive) moved from their home on the Isle of Bute in June this year as they felt they could not access the health services they needed, especially when Martin’s CD4 blood count dropped to dangerously low levels.
The couple claim they were advised by Bute and Argyll Council to consider moving to Brighton as the pair have family in the area who might be able to help care for them and because of the city’s reputation for excellence in HIV service.
Since moving to Brighton two months ago, however, the pair say they have been subject to council incompetence and lack of service including inappropriate housing, no HIV specialist nurse appointed to oversee Paul’s treatment and care and a lack of help from social services. The council denies these claims and say they have been working to provide the care and housing the couple need.
Ward says the problems have become so acute the resultant stress is affecting the couple’s health: “My CD4 count has fallen from 700 to under 400 in less than 2 months. My consultant has told me she thinks the fall is due to the stress I’m under with all the worry over our housing situation.
“It’s had an effect on our relationship and on our daily life as we’ve been totally stripped of our dignity.”
Ward claims the main cause of stress is the council back tracking on a promise to provide suitable accommodation to the couple, who are currently in a private rental property with mildew on the walls and that has eleven steps to the front door, despite Paul’s partner Martin needing a walking stick.
Ward says that a lack of response from the council and service providers has left him with no choice but go on ‘treatment strike’.
“I’ve had to stop my treatment because I want Martin to have the dignity and respect that he deserves and it’s the only way I can get the council to listen to how desperate we are.
“We just want the council to fulfill their promise. We don’t want any special treatment but we want a reassurance that we’ll be re-housed before the six-month contract on this property runs out in December.”
A Brighton & Hove City Council spokesperson said:
"This case has been handled professionally and sympathetically, adhering rigorously to council policy and procedure. Housing staff and social care workers have dedicated significant time and resources to finding a solution to what is a challenging case. We will continue to work with the couple to ensure their housing transfer application is treated fairly and their health needs are accommodated."