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Social Science Emigration & Immigration

Screening Out

HIV Testing and the Canadian Immigration Experience

by (author) Laura Bisaillon

UBC Press
Initial publish date
May 2022
Emigration & Immigration, Immigration, Disease & Health Issues
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2022
    List Price

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Where to buy it


What happens when people with HIV apply to immigrate to Canada? Screening Out takes readers through the process of seeking permanent residency, illustrating how mandatory HIV testing and the medical inadmissibility regime are organized in such a way as to make such applications impossible. This ethnographic inquiry into the medico-legal and administrative practices governing the Canadian immigration system shows how this system works from the perspective of the very people toward whom this exclusionary health policy is directed.


As Laura Bisaillon demonstrates, mandatory immigration HIV screening triggers institutional practices that are highly problematic not only for would-be immigrants, but also for those bureaucrats, doctors, and lawyers who work within that system. She provides a vital corrective to state claims about the functioning of – and the professional and administrative practices supporting – mandatory HIV testing and medical examination, pinpointing how and where things need to change.

About the author

Laura Bisaillon is a political sociologist and associate professor in the Department of Health and Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She is the author of Screening Out: HIV Testing and the Canadian Immigration Experience (UBC Press, 2022). She is the director of the documentary film The Unmaking of Medical Inadmissibility (2020)

Laura Bisaillon's profile page


  • Commended, <P>Canadian Sociology Book Award, Canadian Sociological Association</P>
  • Winner, Best Book Award, Canadian Studies Network

Editorial Reviews

Laura Bisaillon’s Screening Out is a brilliant and much needed study of one barely known aspect of the Canadian immigration system: the medical screening of immigration applicants and the mandatory testing for HIV.

Canadian Journal of Disability Studies

"An excellent ethnographic account of how mandatory HIV testing has become an ominous tool for rendering permanent resident applications ‘medically inadmissible’ in the Canadian federal immigration system, leaving some people in even more precarious circumstances than where they began."

Sociology of Health & Illness