Abstract – Human rights consequences of mandatory HIV screening policy of newcomers to Canada

Laura M. Bisaillon

Health and Human Rights 12/2

Published December 2010


This paper focuses on the key human rights consequences of the HIV screening policy that applies to all permanent and some temporary resident applicants to Canada. This mandatory policy was introduced in early 2002 by Citizenship and Immigration Canada after consultation with Health Canada. The policy has yet to be evaluated and, until recently, the actualities of the medical encounters where testing occurs in domestic and international settings have not been researched. There is no systematic documentation of the policy’s implications on either the lives of persons who submit to mandatory testing or on health systems. This article argues that there are sound options for responding to the human rights challenges posed by the screening policy. Data were obtained from secondary literature and findings from empirical fieldwork and research among immigrants living with HIV/AIDS in Canada. This paper adds to theoretical and applied health services and interventions work by focusing attention on avenues for addressing key human rights concerns posed by the policy. These are identified and critically explored through the framework that Lawrence Gostin and the late Jonathan Mann developed in 1999, which was later extended by Barry Hoffmaster and Ted Schrecker in 2000. The article concludes with four recommendations for addressing the central human rights consequences of the policy.