Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Health Care

Immigrant and Trafficking Victims

Sex trafficking victims made medical visits focused on sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests, and abortions.

Under the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) Language Access Plan (Executive Order 13166) issued in 2000 and updated in 2013, each HHS agency of the Department of Health and Human Services shall provide access to timely, quality language assistance services to individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP).24

Limited English Proficient (LEP) Victims


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Look beneath the surface: Human trafficking is modern-day slavery.
  2. Baldwin, Eisenman, Sayles, Ryan, Chuang, Identification of Human Trafficking Victims in Health Care Settings, Health and Human Rights, Vol. 13. No. 1, July 2011

    In other instances, a language barrier further complicated communications between victims and health care providers. Most of the trafficked victims had limited English proficiency (LEP) while they were enslaved, and many who received health services reported that medical personnel communicated only with their trafficker, who also served as their interpreter. The traffickers would either lie to the health care workers or they would tell the victims to lie.

    Studies reveal that health care workers in the U.S. often remain unaware of their immigrant patients’ experiences of extreme violence; patients with past or current histories of trafficking and forced labor are likely also going undetected. Focusing efforts among immigrant or LEP patients, or those who pay cash for services, may facilitate identification of international trafficking victims.

  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
  5. The Department of Health and Human Services Language Access Plan 2013

    This regulation makes it clear that every limited-English-proficient patient has a right to meaningful access to a hospital’s services; requires every hospital to develop a language assistance program and designate a language assistance coordinator; requires hospitals to identify and document each patient’s language of preference and the acceptance or refusal of language assistance services; sets clear limits on the use of friends, strangers, and family members as interpreters, including age restrictions; and so forth.

  6. New York State Code of Rules and Regulations Section 405.7
  7. HHS Reaffirms Commitment Access to All Programs and Activities by LEP Persons Pledged