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.
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.
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