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Gay Rights Groups Praise Pending End to HIV Travel Ban

By Spencer S. Hsu
Gay rights groups are praising the imminent release of a proposed regulation ending a 1987 U.S. ban on travel and immigration by foreign nationals infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

Then-President George W. Bush signed into law last July a provision to remove H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, from a list of communicable diseases for which federal officials can deny visas or turn away travelers at borders, and the White House Office of Management and Budget indicated last week that it approved the regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out the law.

Once published in the Federal Register, the proposed rule will be open for a 45-day comment period, after which HHS could make it final.

In a written statement, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said, "We are one important step closer to finally ending this discriminatory ban once and for all. This regulation is unnecessary, ineffective and lacks any public health justification.  We are confident that this sad chapter in our nation's treatment of people with HIV and AIDS will soon be closed."

HIV is the only disease singled out in U.S. immigration law for exclusion. By law, other "communicable diseases of public health significance" are left to the discretion of HHS to determine, according to Immigration Equality, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive immigrants.

Posted at 4:53 PM ET on Jun 29, 2009  | Category:  Health Care
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