Monday, January 4, 2010

HIV Travel Ban Lifted

I'm not sure how many people realize that a ban placed on HIV/Aids patients for entry into the United States and that was sponsored by Jesse Helms in the 1980's was still in place until today.  With all the advances in treatment and better understanding of how HIV is spread, the law seemed as if it were written in the Stone Age.  The US couldn't even hold the bi-Annual AIDS/HIV summit because of its discriminatory law.  Only now has it been lifted.  Here's the story from CBS News:

The U.S. will no longer bar people with HIV/Aids from entering the country, ending a 22-year immigration ban, according to a BBC report Monday.

The move comes as the U.S. prepares to host a bi-annual global HIV/Aids summit in 2012.

President Barack Obama has been on record against the ban, saying in October it was "rooted in fear rather than fact".

"We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the Aids pandemic - yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people with HIV from entering our own country," he said then.
It still boggles my mind that were only one of twelve countries to continue the ban over 22 years.  When did we stop being the country that was a haven for the huddled masses?  When did we become the country that would be so out of step with the rest of the world when in came to welcoming those who most needed welcoming?  There was a time when we tried to persuade other countries to do a better job with human rights.  At least in one area, we were the last to take that step ourselves.  Gee, I wonder if Senator Helms (right)  would have felt the same way about banning entry if, say, the major demographic for the disease was heterosexual white  males from Ireland.  Any chance that the fact that gay man were primary targets of the disease helped frame that policy?

Such a cynic, I am.  But I'm happy to give the Obama two kudos in three days, the first for naming Amanda Simpson, a transgendered woman, to a post in his administration.  I look forward to offering many more kudos this year.  (Did I hear someone sat Don't Ask Don't Tell?)

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