U.S. Could end ban on HIV-Positive Travellers, Immigrants
Since 1987, the US has banned anyone with HIV from travelling into the country, either to visit or work. Even international AIDS conferences have been affected, and there has long been calls to change the laws.
A two-decade ban on people with HIV visiting or immigrating to the United States may end soon through a Senate bill aimed at fighting AIDS and other diseases in Africa and other poor areas of the world.
The U.S. is one of a dozen countries — including Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Russia — that ban travel and immigration for HIV-positive people.
Some blogger's thoughts:
Congress has a chance this week to repeal a law that punishes individuals for being HIV-positive. Don't let them miss this opportunity.
Former Senator Jesse Helms, the notorious author of dozens of measures attacking GLBT and HIV-positive people during his years in the Senate, died on July 4. Unfortunately, the legacy of discrimination against HIV-positive people he helped to create lives on in a law that bars nearly every foreign person with HIV from entering the United States. That's right – with very few exceptions, an HIV-positive individual cannot come to the United States for any reason, be it to visit, work, study or become a legal resident.
A previous call from the International AIDS conference, as they are unable to host or gather in the United States:
As the 16th International AIDS Conference got under way Sunday in Toronto, a coalition of HIV, immigrant, and refugee service advocates called on the United States to end its ban on HIV-positive foreign nationals entering the country.
The group, Lift the Bar, said the U.S. policy has kept the conference from coming to the United States for 16 years.
Since 1987 HIV-positive foreign nationals have been banned from entering or transiting through the United States. Those already living in the United States have been barred from most types of legal status. As a result, they are ineligible for most public health benefits and at risk for deportation to their countries of origin, except in limited circumstances.
A post from earlier this year from a UK man with HIV, who is wondering what's going on with America's stance on HIV-positive travellers:
Dear Doctor Robert I'm a 32 year old Brazilian hiv positiv male living in London. After 5 years in the UK I must say that I really admire their aproach to us positive people. We're treated by their government like anybody else if no better. I've traveled all over Europe and have never had a problem regarding my hiv status. I'd love to go to New York though, but I find it so hard because of your rules towards positive people. My question is: Why is the mainstream of hiv activism in America so silent about this matter? Why don't you people raise your voices to make sure that your next presitent fights against such totalitarian law.
Some background information on the banning:
In addition to the United States, only Armenia, Brunei, China,
Iraq, South Korea, Moldavia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia
practice this particular form of discrimination.
How it came to be law in the first place:
Senator Helm’s work created the United States’ ban on both HIV-positive travelers and “green card” applicants who are HIV-positive.
In 1987, Senator Helms offered the ban as an amendment to a bill to fund availability of the antiretroviral drug Zidovudine (AZT). The law passed almost unanimously by Congress, in part as a political trade to obtain the funds for AZT.
Then, at the urging of Senator Helms the ban was codified by Congress in 1993, as a climate of fear about HIV and prejudice toward HIV-positive people exploded.