Britain: Immigrants Account for 70 Percent of HIV and TB Cases
November 16, 2006
While most migrants to Britain are healthy, persons born outside of the United Kingdom represent more than two-thirds of the country's HIV, tuberculosis and malaria cases, a Health Protection Agency (HPA) report titled "Migrant Health" found.
However, screening migrants before they are issued a visa or when they arrive is likely to be ineffective, since most of the infections are undetectable or latent when migrants arrive, the report suggested. "More than 75 percent of TB cases in people not born in the U.K. present more than two years after their arrival [here]," said report coauthor Jane Jones. "And over half of malaria cases are acquired on trips to visit friends and relatives." Jones said it is important for migrants to be followed up after immigrating to the United Kingdom.
Though it did not comment directly on a screening policy, which the Home Office is studying, the report noted that in most cases the indigenous community is not at risk of infection by migrants. Those at high risk are minority communities, where many people from Africa and the Indian sub-continent live.
HPA chief Pat Troop said the report was designed to help plan and provide more effective health services, particularly where the real risks are. For example, the TB rate for non-British born people in 2005 was 103.3 cases per 100,000 people, an increase from 78.2 per 100,000 in 2000. Meanwhile, the rate in British-born people has remained low and stable at around 4 cases per 100,000 residents.
The Times (London)
11.16.2006; Nigel Hawkes