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U.S. preparing to lift HIV travel ban
Posted by Kristi Heim
The Obama Administration is proposing a policy change that would effectively lift a ban on HIV-positive visitors from entering the United States.
The issue came up recently when a UK citizen invited to speak at a Seattle global health conference was denied a visa earlier this month. British activist Paul Thorn could not participate in the Pacific Health Summit, despite the interventions of Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Jim McDermott and appeals to the U.S. Consulate in London. Thorn protested the policy in a letter read to the Summit audience.
According to this federal notice, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is proposing to remove HIV from a list of communicable diseases that make non-citizens ineligible for entry into the U.S.
The CDC said the proposed change is in line with an amendment signed last July as part of the U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The amendment removed language in the Immigration and Nationality Act that explicitly prohibited HIV-positive non-citizens from entering the United States without a visa waiver, but it was not fully implemented.
"It has been almost a year since enactment, yet people are still being denied entry to the U.S. because HIV has not yet been removed from the HHS list of communicable diseases that prevent entry into this country." McDermott wrote in a letter last week to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, urging her to take action.
McDermott said he had been contacted three times over the last few weeks about the issue, both by organizers of the Pacific Health Summit and by two constituents who had friends denied entry into the U.S. at the Canadian border because of their HIV status.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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