Canadian Immigration Advocates Denounce Mandatory HIV Testing
Immigration advocates of the Canadian Council for Refugees are condemning recommendations by Health Canada, a federal department that helps develop health policy and promote disease prevention, to screen all "would-be" immigrants for HIV, the Montreal Gazette reports. Health Canada's proposal calls for potential immigrants to undergo mandatory HIV testing; individuals who test positive for HIV would be "barred from settling in Canada." Canada's current policy requires immigrants to be screened for active tuberculosis and syphilis, and immigrants testing positive must be treated for the disease before arriving in Canada. But Rivka Augenfeld, president of the Table de Concertation des Organismes au Service des Personnes Refugiees et Immigrants, said, "I don't think screening for HIV is correct. You have to look at things that are an immediate danger to the public and TB is one of them. But you can't say that HIV is a danger to the public in that sense." Steve Jeffrey, a Health Canada spokesperson, defended the recommendation, saying that the "concern is simply that these are infectious diseases that can be transmitted from one person to another in the context of migration. These are just some diseases and we will be looking at more." Health Canada has also made recommendations that immigrants be tested for hepatitis B and Chagas' disease, a parasite infection (Derfel, Montreal Gazette, 12/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.