Potential Impact of Restricting STD/HIV Care for Immigrants in Los Angeles County

Published in: International Journal of STD & AIDS, v. 7, Nov./Dec. 1996, p. 532-535

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1995

by Steven M. Asch, Sara Rulnick, Cheri Todoroff, Gary A. Richwald

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Legislative restrictions in immigrants' access to health care and local governmental funding shortfalls in the U.S. and Western Europe have raised fears that public clinic patients might delay care for communicable diseases. To help quantify the potential impact of both policies on public clinics providing sexually transmitted disease (STD) services, the authors surveyed 234 patients from five L.A. Clinics regarding their alternative sources of health care. Of the 215 providing complete information (response rate=91%), 52 (24%) reported they had no legal rights to reside in the U.S. Compared to the legal resident control group, illegal immigrants were more likely to indicate that they had no alternative access to medical care (27% vs. 44%). The authors conclude that for a substantial proportion of patients, particularly illegal immigrants, the STD clinics are indeed essential. Restricting access to these clinics may have unpredictable public health consequences.

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