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European Commission Asks HHS to Stop Requiring Foreign Visitors to Report HIV Status to U.S. Immigration Authorities

January 14, 2009

The European Commission on Tuesday called on HHS to drop a requirement that visitors inform U.S. authorities whether they have HIV, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 1/13). A law that made foreigners living with HIV/AIDS inadmissible in the U.S. was repealed when President Bush signed legislation reauthorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in July 2008. HHS in 1987 placed HIV on a list of diseases barring entry into the U.S. Although that prohibition is separate from the congressionally imposed travel restrictions eased in the PEPFAR bill, federal health officials no longer were bound by law to keep HIV on the list with the signing of the PEPFAR bill. HHS in September 2008 said that it was in the process of removing HIV from the list (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/30/08).

"This has not been done," a European Union transport spokesperson said about HHS removing HIV from the list, adding, "The HIV reference is still there, and we hope that the implementing measures can be taken smoothly and quickly." Visitors to the U.S. also have to declare if they have gonorrhea, syphilis, leprosy, tuberculosis and other conditions. As of Jan. 12, travelers from 35 countries have been required to request authorization online to enter the U.S. and declare whether they have any communicable diseases under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. ESTA applies to several European countries, Australia, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, which are exempt from visa requirements to enter the U.S. for short-term visits (Agence France-Presse, 1/13).

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