The House of Representatives voted Friday to repeal a discriminatory law that prevents HIV-positive foreigners from entering the country. The law, originally enacted in 1987, prohibits foreign nationals with HIV to obtain visas for travel to the U.S. and prevents them from becoming legal permanent residents, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) secured the provision to repeal the travel ban in the Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR). The bill also includes a $48 billion five-year plan to fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases internationally, a significant increase from the $15 billion allotted previously, reports the Associated Press.
“Our government still treats individuals with HIV/Aids as modern-day lepers, categorically banning these individuals from entering into the US,” said Senator Smith, according to BBC News. “To fully embrace our global leadership on HIV/Aids, we must remove our unwelcome mat and overturn this ridiculous ban.” The US is currently one of only 12 countries with such a ban. The bill will go to President Bush for approval. According to the Associated Press, Bush supports the bill and is expected to sign it into law.