Travel Equality for People with HIV


Sixty-seven
countries have some sort of travel restriction for people living with
HIV or AIDS. Among these, 13 countries do not allow HIV positive people
to enter their countries. Sadly, the United States is one of these countries.

Recently,
a provision was included in the reauthorized President’s Emergency
Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to end the statutory HIV travel ban passed
in 1993. That’s the good news! The bad news is that this action is
only the first step. The Department of Health and Human Services must
now remove HIV as one of its "communicable diseases of public health
significance" in order to completely eliminate the travel ban. As
a US citizen, I am disappointed that I am from such a powerful country
that refuses to step up and stand for the human rights of those living
with HIV.

The
International AIDS Society (IAS) has recognized the hypocrisy of countries
claiming to stand up for people living with HIV/AIDS, yet banning them
from their borders. IAS has taken a firm stand against holding any meetings
in countries that continue to impose a ban. In her remarks on a panel
regarding these travel bans, Congresswoman Barbara Lee relayed her embarrassment
over the fact that the United States, one of the biggest funders of
the effort to combat AIDS, through PEPFAR, can’t even host an International
AIDS Conference.

    In 2006, the International AIDS Society
    had the structure and grassroots organizational pressure to convince
    Canada to strike its travel restrictions in order to host the XVI International
    AIDS Conference.  The International AIDS Society should re-activate
    such efforts towards making entry of people living with HIV and AIDS
    a priority for all countries and making visas more accessible for those
    traveling to the Vienna International AIDS Conference in 2010. Ideally,
    the United States will have completely lifted its travel ban and we
    will be able to see an International AIDS Conference in the United States
    in 2012.

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