Advocates, Experts Discuss Allegations of Inadequate Treatment of HIV-Positive Immigrants
Researchers, immigration experts and human rights advocates at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City are discussing claims that some HIV-positive immigrants in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody do not receive appropriate medications regularly, the AP/New York Daily News reports (Watson, AP/New York Daily News, 8/4).
Human Rights Watch in December 2007 released a report on care and treatment to HIV-positive detainees at U.S. detention centers after the death of an HIV-positive inmate at a San Pedro, Calif., detention center. Victor Arellano -- who was transgender and went by the name Victoria -- allegedly was denied vital medical care at the San Pedro center. Attorneys for Arellano's family say that while in custody, Arellano's condition deteriorated to the point that fellow detainees urged staff to provide medical care. Roman Silberfeld, the family's attorney, said that 70 detainees signed a petition urging that Arellano receive medical attention. When Arellano's condition became critical, Arellano was transferred to a San Pedro hospital and died several days later (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/10/07). ICE spokesperson Brandon Alvarez-Montgomery said he could not comment on the case because Arellano's family is suing the agency.
The HRW report found 14 cases in which the organization said HIV-positive immigrants did not receive proper care. According to HRW, ICE detention facilities do not collect adequate information to monitor HIV cases or provide antiretrovirals regularly to HIV-positive detainees. According to HRW, ICE does not prescribe prophylactics to prevent HIV transmission, and officials do not ensure continuity of care when HIV-positive detainees transfer to a different facility.
ICE spends approximately $100 million each year on medical, dental and mental health services for its detainees, the AP/Daily News reports. Out of the 1.5 million people who have been in ICE's custody since the agency's founding in 2003, 71 have died. According to officials, the number of deaths last year decreased to seven, despite a rise in the detainee population. A June 11 report issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that ICE's standards equaled those of other detention agencies. However, the report recommended that ICE improve oversight and screening procedures, as well as fill clinical staff shortages at detention centers (AP/New York Daily News, 8/4).
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