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Group at
International AIDS Conference calls for a friendlier U.S.

Group at
International AIDS Conference calls for a friendlier U.S.

A coalition of HIV, immigrant, and refugee service providers, advocates, and activists has issued a call for the United States to end its ban on HIV-positive foreign nationals from entering the country. As the 16th International AIDS Conference got under way in Toronto on Sunday, the group Lift the Bar said the policy has kept the conference from coming to the United States for 16 years.

Since 1987, HIV-positive foreign nationals have been barred from entering or transiting through the United States. Those already living in the United States have been barred from attaining most types of legal status. As a result, they are ineligible for most public health benefits and at risk for deportation to their countries of origin except in limited circumstances. Lift the Bar maintains that U.S. adherence to the travel ban and immigration ban, in defiance of medical knowledge and humanitarian concerns, demonstrates a disturbing commitment to preserving discriminatory practices.

While there is a waiver available to HIV-positive foreign nationals entering the United States to attend specially "designated events," it requires individuals to disclose their HIV status--a disclosure that may limit their ability to travel to, or through, the country in the future. A waiver is required even when a traveler's stay in the United States merely involves changing planes.

The 16th International AIDS Conference has been titled AIDS 2006. An estimated 24,000 people are expected to attend, making it the biggest AIDS conference ever. (The Advocate)

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