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Welcome to the May bulletin from the Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center (RHTAC).  We held our first webinar on the topic of refugee suicide prevention with over 400 participants.  We will be posting the archive, resources and Q&A documents on the RHTAC website and look forward to your continued engagement here.   


Partnerships are highly valued in refugee resettlement.  In the area of HIV prevention, each of us contributes to increasing awareness of HIV, normalizing testing, and linking refugees with appropriate services.  In collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Refugee Council USA and the Association of Refugee Health Coordinators, we are pleased to be connecting with local resettlement agencies to talk about HIV.   


Please take a brief survey to give us your thoughts on a webinar for clinicians on the topic of HIV and refugees.

HIV and Refugee Resettlement:
Changing Rules, Changing Opportunities


As of January 2010, HIV was removed from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance that preclude eligibility for United States (US) entry and is no longer part of the medical examination required for refugees or immigrants coming to the US.  What this means is that an individual with HIV can no longer be denied admission to the US on the basis of HIV status alone.  Also, immigration to the US is no longer dependent upon documentation of a HIV-negative test result or an HIV-specific medical waiver for those already living with HIV.


While post-arrival HIV testing is not mandatory for refugees, it is highly encouraged.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (CDC/DGMQ) has posted guidance for screening for HIV during the domestic refugee health assessment.  Consistent with current CDC guidance, HIV testing is recommended to be offered to refugees ages 13 to 64.  Screening of all refugees on arrival, including those under age 13 and age 65 or older is encouraged.  To meet the unique needs of newly arrived refugees, information should be provided in the refugee's preferred language and in a manner that is culturally responsive.  Providers are encouraged to consider HIV testing, diagnosis, and care in the context of refugee cultures, social norms, and experiences, recognizing that testing and care may (or may not) have been available overseas and that norms may differ between long-term resident populations and new arrivals.  Appropriate referrals and linkage to care and treatment support services should be assured for all individuals confirmed to be HIV-infected.  It is important to note that all clients (adults and legal guardians of children), regardless of refugee status, have the right to decline an HIV test.  For refugees, this will not affect their status.


HIV testing policy and guidelines are determined by each state.  To learn legal requirements regarding HIV testing in your state, visit www.nccc.ucsf.edu.  In addition to information about types of testing available (for example, confidential testing where the client's name is recorded or anonymous testing, where no name is required), this site provides state-specific information about consent, partner notification and reporting HIV test results to state public health authorities.


HIV remains a significant public health challenge.  While US policy has decoupled HIV testing and immigration processes, this change requires focused efforts domestically to help refugees learn their HIV status.  This needs to be done in a sensitive manner and with the commitment to connect individuals with care.  It is critical to remember that issues of stigma, discrimination and confidentiality remain significant concerns for individuals and communitiesand provision of HIV screening and care should be offered with these factors in mind.


The Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center is collaborating with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Refugee Council USA and the Association of Refugee Health Coordinators to facilitate a webinar series on HIV and refugee resettlement for staff working in local refugee resettlement agencies.  We invite clinicians to complete a short survey  relative to your interest in a webinar on HIV and refugees.


For more information on this topic, you can participate in The State and Future of HIV/AIDS, AIDS.gov is sponsoring a webinar on June 15th that will feature some of the U.S. Government's leading voices on HIV/AIDS.  Register here by June 10th to participate. 

News, Conferences & Trainings


Extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti Beneficiaries

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti beneficiaries.  This extension will be effective July 23, 2011 and is for an additional 18 months.  It will allow these TPS beneficiaries to remain in the United States through January 22, 2013.  The designation of TPS was for eligible Haitian nationals who had continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2010.  


June 1-3, 2011, Toronto, Canada

Canadian Refugee Health: Health means the world to us 


August 1-2 2011, Washington D.C

ORR 2011 National Consultation: Bridges to a New Future   


August 1-26, 2011, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

In-Person Global Health Course 


October 24-26, 2011, Seattle, Washington

4th Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference 2011 


Applications Deadline: July 1st, 2011

Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery Certificate Training Program 

Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma at the Harvard Medical School and the Istituto Superiore di Sanit´┐Ż/Italian Ministry of Health.   

Funding Opportunities 


Ethnic Community Self-Help Discretionary Grant

Due June 30, 2011  

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) invites ethnic community-based organizations and ethnic faith-based organizations to submit competitive grant applications for funding to provide services to newly arrived refugees.  The populations targeted for services and benefits in the application must represent refugee communities which have arrived in the U.S. within the last five years (no earlier than 2005).  


Discretionary Funds for Refugee Childcare Microenterprise Development Project

Due July 5, 2011

This grant initiative will provide microenterprise business opportunities to refugee women focusing on childcare mentoring programs that will facilitate integration into the U.S. cultural norms and State Childcare requirements.  It will assist in English language acquisition, advance educational attainment (GED) and improve economic opportunities through application of acquired job skills in a market where there is a shortage of childcare providers.  Through the grant, mentors will help women establish agreements or contracts with State or county child care offices so they may qualify for State/county childcare reimbursement as childcare service providers.

RHTAC is a project of the Refugee and Immigrant Health Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services. Grant #90RB0042.


For more information, please contact 617 983 6589 or write [email protected]

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Strategies to Support the HIV-related Needs of Refugees and Host Populations (PDF)

A joint publication of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 2005  


Health Assessment of HIV-Infected Refugees  

Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, October 2003, Volume 34, Issue 2, p 251-254

Refugees and Immigrants
American Academy of Pediatrics Redbook: Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of pediatric infectious diseases, 2009

Infectious Disease Screening for Refugees Resettles in the United States
Clinic Infectious Diseases, 2004, Volume 39, Issue 6, p 833-841  

Healthy Refugee Toolkit: Communicable Diseases
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 2011

Screening for HIV-Infection During the Refugee Domestic Medical Examination
Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 2011