International AIDS Conference Could Return To U.S. If Ban On HIV-Positive Visitors Is Reversed

The International AIDS Society (IAS) announced Thursday it is considering Washington, D.C., as the location for the 2012 biannual International AIDS Conference, Science Magazine’s blog, the ScienceInsider reports. “But before it holds the conference anywhere in the U.S., the federal government must change a law that bans HIV-infected people from entering the country,” according to Science Insider.

The conference has not been held in the U.S. since 1990, because the government banned people living with HIV from entering the U.S. “This long-standing law, which is contrary to all scientific evidence and human rights principles, is one of the U.S.’s weakest spots in HIV policy,” IAS President Julio Montaner said in a statement (Cohen, ScienceInsider/Science, 6/11).

“These laws are not consistent with current scientific knowledge, public health best practice, and humanitarian principles … These laws sustain a culture of exclusion, rights violations and marginalization that impedes an effective response to the epidemic,” IAS Executive Director Craig McClure said in a statement.

“Twenty-five years after the discovery of HIV, the world is finally making progress on rolling back the terrible toll of the global AIDS pandemic,” Montaner said. “It is time for the U. S. to end the discriminatory ban on entry of foreigners living with HIV” (IAS release, 6/11).

The law has been repealed, but HHS still has HIV on the list of communicable diseases that bar entry. “In a statement to ScienceInsider, HHS said it has submitted  ‘a notice of proposed rule-making to implement this change’ to the Office of Management and Budget for its review,” according to the blog.

Eight other countries also ban HIV-positive foreigners from visiting and migrating. They are: Brunei, China, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen (“ScienceInsider”/Science, 6/11).

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