The United States is one of only 12 nations in the world to automatically ban HIV-positive visitors from entering the country. Our peers: Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Moldova, Russia, Armenia, and South Korea.
HIV is the only medical condition that permanently precludes admission. Not even leprosy and tuberculosis are grounds for exclusion. Only a record of terrorism, tax evasion, money laundering or child smuggling has the same effect.
This law, which is in violation of UN standards, has absolutely no medical rationale or basis in health policy. It is a discriminatory holdover from the AIDS panic two decades ago. Thousands of immigrants to this country live in constant fear of unjust deportation. Forcing them underground, where they cannot get treated openly for fear of discovery, only worsens the health risk and cost to society.
Now we finally have a chance to take this absurd phobia off the books. The Senate version of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) reauthorization bill includes language that removes the statutory ban. There is bipartisan support but little political will. Urge your senators to demonstrate some leadership and bring this matter to a vote. Too many people have been denied the American dream for too long.