Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), the GOP candidate for president that we liberals love to hate, has deployed tougher, better public health requirements than has the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Yes, the man who doubts evolution and the human causes of global warming had taken what I regard as a more science-based (and to me totally appropriate) stand on a specific public health issue than those "big government" folks in the Obama administration.
Perry had called for mandatory vaccination of young girls to prevent (later in life) Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It is a sexually-transmitted disease, and some conservatives said the injections would lead to permissive behavior, but Perry demanded it anyway.
Now the leadership of DHS (which probably is pretty solid on scientific stuff such as Darwinism) has decided that incoming immigrants to the U.S. no longer need any of the following:
- testing for HIV;
- anti-herpes zoster shots; or
- HPV shots.
This is spelled out in an obscure USCIS document, an announcement that the agency has adopted a new form (I-693), the "Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record". The USCIS statement, dated November 1, 2011, follows:
The current edition of the Form I-693 reflects that an individual should no longer be tested for HIV infection, and that individuals do not have to be vaccinated with the herpes zoster (zoster) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Any reference to HIV, HPV or zoster has been removed [from the form].
All three of the conditions are sexually-transmitted diseases.
The medical examinations, to be done by USCIS-appointed civil surgeons, include multiple protections against TB, but none against HIV. The Centers for Disease Control decided last year that "HIV infection is no longer defined as a communicable disease of public health significance" and that set in motion the elimination of the HIV testing.
I am not a public health expert, but I would think it would be to the interest of the American public generally, and to the incoming immigrant individually, to have both the health system and the alien know about the presence or absence of HIV. And it would be nice to have this all worked out in a system that did not involve tax moneys, as is the case with these examinations.
Yes, HIV is less of a problem than it was a few years back, but it is still an infectious disease, and an expensive one – and immigrants generally have a lower incidence of private medical insurance than citizens do – so the aliens are more likely to take their problems to the nation's emergency rooms. None of that matters, apparently, to USCIS.
Unfortunately, there are no vaccines, yet, for HIV, but there are for both HPV and herpes, but USCIS does not want immigrants to be forced to take these shots among the long list of vaccinations that it does require. Odd.
I find this particularly disturbing because the examination done at the time of immigration is one of the few mandatory health screenings in American life. It offers many opportunities to identify medical problems that will otherwise stay hidden until they become much more serious. It is a golden opportunity for public health services, but in this case, it is being watered down.
What is not odd is that the obliteration of the HIV test, and of the HPV and anti-herpes vaccination requirements, is totally consistent with other DHS rule changes making it easier for a much wider range of immigrants to arrive, or to stay legally, and much more difficult for us to deport aliens who should be deported.