HIV entry ban may be history

By : AnitaHeading
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LGBT leaders and organizations are praising President Obama’s announcement that he will end the ban on U.S. travel and immigration by HIV infected foreign nationals.

Here’s the statement from The AIDS Institute:

Washington, DC â┚¬â€œ â┚¬Å”The AIDS Institute applauds the Obama Administration for proposing an end of the archaic and unjust HIV entry ban, which has prevented people with HIV/AIDS from traveling and immigrating to the United States for the past 22 years,â┚¬Â commented Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.  â┚¬Å”At long last, this relic of the past will soon end and the United States will join with the rest of the world in opening its borders to people with HIV/AIDS free of discrimination.â┚¬Â 

The AIDS Institute has helped lead the effort to lift the ban over the past several years. The current attempt to remove the ban began with legislation introduced in 2007 by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and former Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) to remove language from the Immigration and National Act that prohibited HIV-positive non-citizens from entering the U.S. without a visa waiver.  This language was included in the reauthorization of PEPFAR (the United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008), which President George W. Bush signed on July 30, 2008. 

While the Congressional ban was lifted, HIV was still classified as a communicable disease of public health concern by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rule being published tomorrow in the Federal Register would remove HIV from the list of diseases that make aliens ineligible for entry into the U.S.

According to the proposed rule, the CDC states, â┚¬Å”While HIV infection is a serious health condition, it does not represent a communicable disease that is a significant threat for introduction, transmission, and spread to the United States population through casual contact. An arriving alien with HIV infection does not pose a public health risk to the general population through casual contact. These changes reflect current scientific knowledge and public health best practices and will have the benefit of removing stigmatization of and discrimination against people who are HIV infected.â┚¬Â

The CDC will be accepting comments on the proposal for the next 45 days. 

Schmid continued, â┚¬Å”The AIDS Institute looks forward to reviewing and analyzing the rule proposed by the CDC and submitting comments so that this historic wrong can be corrected as soon as possible.â┚¬Â

Lifting of the HIV entry ban will also pave the way for the United States to once again host an International AIDS Conference. While the U.S. is the world's leader in fighting HIV/AIDS, the country has not been able to host the prestigious conference since 1990. The International AIDS Society recently announced they would like to hold the 2012 conference in Washington DC only if the HIV entry ban is lifted. Holding the conference in Washington DC would not only highlight the U.S. contribution to the global AIDS epidemic, but shine a spotlight on the domestic epidemic. The AIDS Institute currently serves on the steering committee working on bringing the conference to Washington DC. It is estimated that 30,000 attendees from around the world would attend.

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