SHOULD FOREIGNERS WITH HIV BE ALLOWED TO VISIT THE US?

DID YOU KNOW WE HAD SUCH A BAN ON SOME VISITORS TO THIS COUNTRY?

Despite contributing billions to the international battle against AIDS, the United States remains one of only 13 nations — including Iraq, Qatar and Armenia — to ban HIV-positive foreign visitors and immigrants.

Public health officials and advocates are calling on the U.S. government to lift the long-standing travel ban for foreigners with HIV, calling it draconian and politically motivated.

Congress appears to be listening. The Senate is expected to debate the ban this month as part of President Bush’s global AIDS relief package.

The U.S. has faced harsh criticism internationally for having one of the most restrictive immigration policies for HIV-positive foreigners, particularly in comparison to other Western nations. Under U.S. law, foreigners with HIV are not permitted to immigrate to the U.S. — or even visit temporarily — unless they qualify for narrowly defined waivers.

The Senate Foreign Relations committee passed an amendment this month to the $50 billion AIDS funding bill that would move toward lifting the ban, which dates to 1987. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., has sponsored a House version of the amendment.

Some public health and human rights advocates said the ban’s repeal is overdue.

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