President Obama Lifts HIV Travel Ban
HIV-positive people are no longer banned from entering the United States. President Obama has finalized an order overturning a travel and immigration ban that was in effect for twenty-two years. The process of overturning the ban began during the administration of George W. Bush.
“If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it,” said President Obama at a White House reception.
The ban has made it difficult for the United States to hold international conferences on HIV and AIDS because HIV-positive researchers and activists would not be able to attend. There has been no such conference in the U.S. since 1990. Health experts have long pointed out that the ban had no scientific basis and enforced discrimination faced by those who are HIV positive. The ban was implemented when much less was known about how the HIV virus spreads.
The ban has also separated families. People with the HIV virus were not able to apply for immigration benefits unless they qualified for a waiver, which was not easy to obtain.
“We are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people with HIV from entering our own country,” stated Obama. Other countries that bar travel and immigration of HIV-positive people include China, Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Sudan.
The order overturning the ban will take effect on January 4, 2010.