November 4, 2009
Domestically and abroad, health advocates are applauding the Obama administration's repeal of the policy banning non-nationals with HIV from visiting or immigrating to the United States. On Friday, Obama announced that the final rule ending the 22-year-old restriction would be published on Monday, and that it would go into effect "just after the New Year."
"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," Obama noted at the White House.
"The US travel ban was stigmatizing to people living with HIV/AIDS, and many countries around the world modeled their own stigmatizing travel bans on the US law," said Paul Zeitz, head of the Global AIDS Alliance. "So this will help lift the stigma that many HIV-positive people experience around the world."
Describing the ban as "scientifically baseless" and "contemptible," Asia Russell, director of the Health Global Access Project, added, "We call on the remaining countries with travel bans to join the US in eliminating those restrictions."
"This long-overdue move brings the US in line with current scientific and international standards of public health and will lessen the painful stigma and discrimination suffered by HIV-positive people," said Arlene Bardeguez, who is stepping down as director of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
"The HIV travel ban made the United States a pariah in human rights circles, and harmed our reputation as a world leader of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care," said Frank Donaghue, head of Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights. "Starting in 2010, people living with HIV will no longer be prevented from entering this country, no longer turned away at customs, no longer forced to hide their condition and interrupt medical treatment, and no longer be treated by our government with contempt."