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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Documenting best practices for maintaining access to HIV prevention, care and treatment in an era of shifting immigration policy and discourse

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Changes in the United States federal-level political landscape have been felt within immi- grant communities, and the public health clinics that serve them. We sought to document how HIV prevention and care clinics are reaching and retaining their immigrant community patients during a period of retrenchment of accessible public resources and immigrant rights. From May 2018 through January 2019, we conducted 20 in-depth interviews with cli- nicians, case workers, advocates, legal experts, and peer navigators in Northern and Cen- tral California. Interviews were recorded and transcribed. Several themes emerged which can be grouped into three primary areas: changes post-election, challenges meeting the needs of patients, and best practices for maintaining access to prevention and care ser- vices. Post-election, providers reported some of their patients skipping clinic appointments due to fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and deportation while other patients had moved to locations that they felt were less policed. Challenges emerged around linguistic competency, meeting basic needs such as housing stability and employ- ment, and treating mental health sequelae resulting from trauma experienced in home coun- tries or during migration itself. Best practices included hiring bi-lingual and bi-cultural staff, linking to legal services to assist with immigration status, holding trainings around immigrant rights and responses to ICE raids, and building trust with immigrant patients by assuring them that their status would not be collected or reported. In light of adverse policy changes affecting immigrants, agencies have begun to institute best practices to mitigate the nega- tive impact of those policies on their clients and patients.

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