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HIV-positive
athletes from abroad allowed to participate at Gay Games

HIV-positive
athletes from abroad allowed to participate at Gay Games

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The U.S. government will allow foreign-born HIV-positive athletes and spectators to enter the country and attend Chicago's Gay Games.

In what could be a boon for this summer's Gay Games in Chicago, officials said Monday that the U.S. government will issue a temporary waiver allowing foreign-born HIV-positive participants and spectators to enter the country and partake in the event. Under normal circumstances, the United States bars nonresidents with HIV from entering the country. "This is going to raise registration because it immediately increases our pool of potential registrants to HIV-positive people as well as their partners," said Steve Kauffman, Gay Games spokesman. The government issued a similar waiver in 1994 for the New York Gay Games. It is in effect from July 8 to July 28 and is available only to those who are planning to participate in or attend the Games. Travel visas will be issued on a special form instead of being placed permanently in the applicant's passport. Travelers do not have to declare their HIV status on the application--they can simply mark "N/A" on the form. Information regarding procedures on how to apply for the B-2 visa at U.S. consulates will be available shortly on the Federation of Gay Games Web site at www.gaygames.com and the Chicago Gay Games Web site at www.gaygameschicago.org. "Many people with HIV/AIDS and other life-affecting health issues have competed and set masters-division records at past Gay Games, and we are happy that all participants from outside the United States once again will be able to travel freely to attend the Gay Games this summer," said Kathleen Webster, copresident of the International Federation of Gay Games, in a statement. The Gay Games are an Olympics-like event held every four years for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender athletes. The first Gay Games was held in San Francisco in 1982, with 1,350 people participating. The Games has also been held in Vancouver, New York City, Amsterdam, and Sydney. The most recent event, the 2002 Games in Sydney, drew about 11,000 participants. More than 12,000 athletes from 100 counties are expected to attend Gay Games VII in Chicago. (Advocate.com)

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