STAFF working at the DWP’s assessment centres should be better trained to deal with people living with HIV, according to an SNP MP.

Stewart McDonald has written Iain Duncan Smith calling on him to make sure the Work Capability Assessment, to which those claiming sickness and disability benefits must submit, takes into account the fluctuating nature of HIV.

“It is absolutely vital that DWP staff reassessing claimants for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefits have sufficient training in the issues faced by those living with HIV, otherwise people might slip through the safety net that the welfare system is supposed to provide,” McDonald said.

The MP continued: “The nature of the infection, coupled with the anti-retroviral treatment, means that people living with HIV need support such as welfare benefits at different times and for different reasons – to stay in work, maintain their health or to meet their basic living needs.

“People living with HIV in Scotland have described poorer mental and physical health symptoms, difficulty paying for energy bills, and 36 per cent of those surveyed by HIV Scotland and Hepatitis Scotland said they had been affected by the bedroom tax.”

There are an estimated 6,015 people people living in Scotland with HIV. However, just 4,995 of those have been diagnosed and the numbers are increasing.

On average, 360 people living in Scotland are diagnosed with HIV every year, compared to just 160 in the 1990s.