Bill Introduced to Allow HIV-Positive Travelers, Immigrants

Legislation was introduced Friday that would repeal provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act that bar HIV-positive people from entering the United States, senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Gordon Smith of Oregon announced.

BY Matthew Van Atta

December 15 2007 1:00 AM ET

Legislation was
introduced Friday that would repeal provisions in the
Immigration and Nationality Act that bar HIV-positive people
from entering the United States, senators John Kerry
of Massachusetts and Gordon Smith of Oregon announced.
The provisions include HIV-positive doctors and
experts as well as people seeking asylum in the U.S.

“It’s incredible that the federal government
still tolerates a ban that not only restricts AIDS
experts with the disease but also refugees who are
seeking asylum in our country,” Kerry said in the
statement. “My legislation will end this
draconian law. The attempts to fix this law through a
complex waiver system, while admirable, still don’t
do anything to rectify the discriminatory underlying
problem. That is why I have introduced this
legislation to permanently strike this unfair provision
from the books.”

The INA has
treated HIV as a grounds to deny immigrants U.S. citizenship
since 1993. The proposed bill by Smith, a Republican, and
Kerry, a Democrat, would strike HIV restrictions from
the INA and ask for a full review of the public health
aspects of travel and immigration restrictions against
those with HIV, the statement said.

Because of the
restrictions, international HIV/AIDS conferences have been
blocked from taking place in the United States. According to
the statement, the U.S. is one of only 13 countries
that have an HIV travel ban, along with China, Iraq,
Libya, and Sudan.

The measure
includes 12 requirements of HIV-positive visitors and
immigrants coming to the U.S., including the disclosure of
one's HIV status to officials in the
individual’s home country; certification that
the person has the medication necessary for the duration of
their stay in the U.S.; certification that no symptoms
are being exhibited; and a commitment to avoid all
high-risk behavior while in the U.S. (The Advocate)

Tags: Health

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