Thursday, October 2, 2008

(Update) Rules Eased for HIV-Positive Visitors to U.S

Update: Since we published this article Monday, the U.S Government announced short-term visitors can now receive a waiver from existing law banning HIV positive travelers from entering the country. This is a temporary solution until HIV is removed from a list of "communicable diseases of public health significance," which limit inbound travelers from entering the U.S. That list process is expected to take up to a year to complete.

Original Article:
Although President Bush signed a bill that would end the ban on HIV-positive travelers and immigrants coming to the U.S., the Health and Human Services Department, responsible for writing new rules allowing positive travelers into the country, has yet to move on the issue.

“We’re working hard to revise the regulation, and it’s our goal to have it completed during this administration,” said Health and Human Services spokeswoman Holly Babin.

The United States, normally regarded as a country leading the fight for equality and fairness, instead finds itself on the sidelines with a dozen or so repressive countries such as Libya, Sudan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, by banning travel and immigration for people with HIV. All other countries in the world have no such ban.

Several house Democrats submitted a letter to Bush demanding swift action to remove the HIV travel and immigration ban. “Congress has sent a clear signal that we can’t fight discrimination and stigma aboard until we end it at home,” said Victoria Neilson, legal director of Immigration Quality. “Congress has done its part – it’s time for HHS to act.”