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U.N. Leaders, HIV/AIDS Advocates Laud Official End To HIV Travel Ban

A travel ban in place since 1987 that prevented non-U.S. citizens with HIV/AIDS from entering the country officially ended Monday, The Hill’s “Blog Briefing Room” reports (Romm, 1/4).

According to CNN, “the statutory requirement that mandated the inclusion of HIV on the list of diseases of public health significance that barred entry in the United States” was removed in 2008 when Congress passed and President Bush signed the U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008.  HHS changed the exsisting regulations “that continued to list HIV as a ‘communicable disease of public-health significance’ and required the more cumbersome visa process” in November 2009.

According to CNN, under the new regulation, visas issued to travelers with HIV will not publicly identify them by their HIV status (1/4).

“The United Nations praised the United States and South Korea on Monday for lifting travel bans on people with HIV and urged 57 other countries with travel restrictions to end them quickly,” the Associated Press/New York Times reports. South Korea lifted its travel restrictions against people living with HIV on Jan. 1.

According to the AP, Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, referred to the two countries’ policy changes as “a victory for human rights on two sides of the globe.” The news service continues, “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Obama in October and applauded South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak on Monday ‘for his country’s leadership in ending restrictions towards people living with HIV that have no public health benefit'” (1/4).

“Some 57 countries, territories and areas have some form of HIV-specific restriction on entry, stay and residence that is based on HIV status,” ranging from those who ban HIV-positive travelers from entering the country to those whose bans involve long-term stays in the country, according to UNAIDS statement (1/4).

Agence France-Presse reports on the response of advocacy groups to the lifting of the travel ban (1/4).

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