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News & Notes

December 1999

Unlocking The Golden Door?
Grants For Women's Programs
Australian Doctor Negligent

Unlocking The Golden Door?

At least one Member of Congress is currently drafting legislation, based on language developed at the Gay Men's Health Crisis, that would make it easier for HIV-positive immigrants to remain in the United States legally.

Work on this issue goes back to 1996, when Congress passed Draconian immigration laws that make it extremely difficult for HIV-positive immigrants to become legal residents of the United States. Until then, HIV-positive immigrants in deportation proceedings had the right to request what was then called "Suspension of Deportation" if they had had seven years of physical presence in this country, were of good moral character, and could show extreme hardship to themselves or a "qualifying relative" -- a spouse, parent, or child who was a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

The 1996 law did away with "Suspension of Deportation." As it stands now, immigrants in deportation (now called "removal") proceedings who wish to remain here must have had ten years of physical presence and must show that their removal from the U.S would cause hardship to the "qualifying relative." Potential harm to the immigrant is now legally irrelevant.

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Many undocumented immigrants have been living in the United States for many years, but, because they have no "qualifying relative," they are unable to become legal residents. For most HIV-positive immigrants, returning to their homelands is not an option, since they would be unable to receive the medication and treatment that they require. These immigrants remain in the United States, but are unable to participate fully in the community for fear that they will be caught and deported. To stay here means living in constant fear of being found out; to return to the countries of their birth often means a death sentence.

GMHC's Legal and Public Policy Departments have been working with the agency's Immigrant Client Advisory Board, which includes individuals caught in this dilemma, to educate legislators about the devastating impact the current immigrant laws have on HIV-positive individuals.

Interest on the part of several lawmakers prompted GMHC to prepare draft legislation that, if adopted by Congress, would do away with the requirement of hardship for a "qualifying relative" for immigrants who themselves face medical hardship. The proposed language would allow immigrants with serious medical conditions to apply for legal permanent residence if they are in removal (formerly deportation) hearings and if they can show residence in the U.S. for at least seven years, good moral character, and extreme hardship to themselves or a spouse, parent, or child who is a citizen or legal permanent resident.

Thus, if this legislation is passed, an undocumented HIV-positive immigrant of good moral character who has been living in this country for a long time could apply for legal permanent resident status if he or she faced extreme hardship from lack of effective HIV treatment and medication in his or her country of origin.


Grants For Women's Programs

A total of $250,000 in grant support has been awarded to eighteen programs across the country that work to provide HIV treatment information to women in underserved and hard-to-reach settings.

The grants, awarded by Glaxo Wellcome, went to programs that link community-based organizations with local resources. The money will fund programs that focus specifically on the healthcare needs of HIV-positive women and on improving their access to treatment. The grants will fund positions such as women's outreach educators, peer treatment associates, family outreach liaisons, and minority coordinators. They will also support educational materials, including a Spanish/English women's resource guide and peer treatment newsletters.

"The number of women with HIV has increased tremendously over the past decade, and they face different treatment challenges than men do," says Dean Mitchell, General Manager of Specialty Divisions at Glaxo Wellcome. "Improving access to HIV treatment information can help HIV-infected women take full advantage of available treatment options."

Awards ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 went to AIDS Interfaith Network in Dallas; AIDS Project Worcester in Worcester, Massachusetts; AltaMed and Bienestar in Los Angeles; Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center in San Francisco; AWARE -- The HIV Talk Radio Project in Chicago; BEBASHI in Philadelphia; CitiWide Harm Reduction and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx; Family & Medical Counseling Services in Washington, D.C.; Hope & Health Center of Central Florida in Winter Park; Iris House and the Village Center for Care in New York; Migrant Benevolent Association in Newton Grove, North Carolina; Outreach in Atlanta; Phoenix Body Positive; St. Louis Effort for AIDS; and The BABES Network in Seattle.


Australian Doctor Negligent

A doctor in Australia has been found guilty of negligence because he did not recommend an HIV test for a heterosexual male patient with hepatitis B and a history of recurrent viral illnesses. Damages of $A703,414, plus medication costs and interest, were awarded to a woman who contracted HIV from the man. The judge noted that appropriate counseling by the physician could have resulted in the man being tested.


Back to the December 1999 Issue of Body Positive Magazine



  
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This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.
 

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