IAS Applauds U.S. Senate Passage of PEPFAR and Repeal of Discriminatory and Ineffective HIV Entry and Immigration Ban
July 18, 2008
The International AIDS Society (IAS) applauds the United States Senate for passing the reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The IAS particularly commends the provision in this bill which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to lift the ban on travel and immigration to the U.S. by HIV positive non-citizens, and urges Congressional and White House leadership to put this bill into law.
Reauthorization of PEPFAR through the Tom Lantos and Henry J Hyde US Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (S 2731) will bring a much needed boost in global resources available for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care; while also tackling other equally important infectious diseases, and addressing the crisis of weak health systems. The approval of this bill will also go a step further to enhance U.S. global leadership on HIV/AIDS by aligning scientific progress on HIV, public health evidence and U.S. public policy. Repealing the entry and immigration ban is an important step in combating stigma and discrimination associated with HIV. It also challenges other countries with discriminatory policies and laws restricting the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV to follow suit.
The IAS has opposed the "U.S. HIV-specific entry bar" in principle and practice since 1990. The IAS does not hold its conferences in countries that restrict short term entry of people living with HIV/AIDS and/or require prospective HIV-positive visitors to declare their HIV status on visa application forms or other documentation required for entry into the country. The International AIDS Conference has not been held in the Untied States for the past two decades.
The XVII International AIDS Conference, to be held August 3-8, 2008, in Mexico City will gather more than 20,000 professionals from around the world leading the global response to HIV/AIDS. Conference delegates will hold several sessions that discuss the impact "travel restrictions" have had on individuals, families, and on perpetuating HIV stigma and discrimination. Currently, some 67 countries around the world have some sort of HIV-specific laws that restrict the entry, stay or residence of people living with HIV.
IAS member experts in infectious disease and public health have long held that laws and policies barring the entry, stay or residence of HIV-positive people do not protect the public health and may in fact impede effective responses to HIV. Such "travel restrictions" prevent HIV- positive people from visiting relatives in other countries, doing business or studying abroad, migrating for work reasons, participating in international humanitarian and development efforts, serving in consular services, seeking or receiving asylum, attending conferences, vacationing, uniting with family members or adopting HIV positive children from abroad.
"IAS is proud of its longstanding leadership and commitment to this issue. We congratulate the US Senate, and the many advocates from the fields of science, medicine, law, faith, and constituent groups most affected, who have long fought for the repeal of the HIV travel ban in the United States," said IAS President Pedro Cahn. "We look forward to seeing this provision put into law as we move forward in the global movement to reduce the burden of HIV."
For more information on countries with HIV entry, stay and residence restrictions, please go to www.hivtravel.org.
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