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Obama Announces Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization, Elimination of HIV Travel Ban

In a White House ceremony on Oct. 30, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law an extension of the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides critical funding to HIV/AIDS service organizations throughout the United States. In a 10-minute speech that preceded the signing, Obama spoke candidly about the current state of HIV in the U.S., and also announced that the last vestige of the U.S.'s 22-year-old ban on HIV-positive people entering the country was about to vanish. According to Obama, a formal rule eliminating the ban will go into effect in January 2010.

You can watch the official White House video of the speech and the signing below.

Here is a transcript of two key excerpts from the speech:

"Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat. We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic, yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people with HIV from entering our own country. If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it. And that's why, on Monday [Nov. 2], my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban, effective just after the new year. ...

"We can't give Ryan back to Jeanne, back to his mom. But what we can do, what the legislation that I'm about to sign has done for nearly 20 years, is acknowledge the courage that he and his family showed. What we can do is take more action and educate more people. What we can do is keep fighting each and every day until we eliminate this disease from the face of the earth."

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