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HHS Proposes Regulations to Eliminate HIV Travel Ban

The US Department of Health and Human Services has released proposed regulations that would repeal a ban preventing HIV-positive foreigners from entering the country. The law, originally enacted in 1987, prohibits foreign nationals with HIV from obtaining visas for travel to the US and prevents them from becoming legal permanent residents. The new regulations are set to be implemented after a 45-day public comment period.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), who both supported a congressional measure to lift the ban last year, praised the current progress this week. According to an Immigration Equality press release, Senator Kerry said of the proposed regulations, “Today we are one step closer to ending a discriminatory practice that stigmatizes those living with HIV, squanders our moral authority, and sets us back in the fight against AIDS…I sincerely hope we can continue to work in a bipartisan manner with the help of the public health, religious, LGBT, and immigration groups to make this proposed rule final as soon as possible.”

Immigration Equality Executive Director Rachel B. Tiven told Newsday, “These regulations are a long time coming. There hasn’t been a major HIV scientific conference in the US in decades because of this ban.” Tiven also stated on her organization website, “Immigration Equality has been committed, for over a decade, to repealing this ban that disproportionately affects LGBT people. I am thrilled to report that after so many years of discrimination, the end is in sight.”

When they are implemented, the new regulations will remove HIV from the list of “communicable diseases of public health significance.” A timeline for enacting the new regulations after the comment period ends has not been established, though the regulations may go into effect before the end of the year.

Sources:

Immigration Equality Press Release 6/29/09; Immigration Equality Website 6/29/09; Newsday 6/29/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/28/08

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