February 12, 2010
Colorado health care providers hope that the recent lifting of a federal ban on people with HIV/AIDS from traveling to the United States will help push more infected immigrants into care. Until the change, signed into law by President Obama last fall and effective beginning in January, testing positive for HIV was also grounds for denying permanent residency status.
Widespread fear of deportation among Colorado's immigrant community has kept many from getting tested for HIV and seeking treatment, according to doctors.
"This will improve the outcomes for immigrants with HIV here," Dr. Tom Campbell, head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, said of the law. "They're not going to be afraid to come in and get treated."
Approximately 10 percent of the 1,400 patients at the university's infectious-disease division and Colorado Center for AIDS Research are immigrants. The university recently opened an HIV clinic exclusively for immigrants, said Dr. Jose Castillo, the clinic's director. Of the 14 patients currently in care, two-thirds are from Mexico and the rest are from Africa, he said.