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13/08/2008
U.S. should lift HIV/AIDS-related travel restrictions, opinion piece says

The U.S. is "just one of 12 countries" -- including Libya, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Sudan -- that "prohibit, almost without exception, HIV-positive noncitizens from entering the country".

Since 2003, the U.S. through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has "extended a helping hand to" HIV-positive people living outside the country, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) write in a Washington Times opinion piece. "Unfortunately, as we open our wallets to fund lifesaving treatments to those living with HIV/AIDS overseas, we will not open our doors," the authors write, adding that HIV is the "only medical condition that renders people inadmissible" to the U.S. The U.S. is "just one of 12 countries" -- including Libya, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Sudan -- that "prohibit, almost without exception, HIV-positive noncitizens from entering the country," according to Kerry and Smith. They add that such a "discriminatory policy has no basis in public health, let alone common sense."

According to the authors, they have introduced a bill that would "overturn this unfair policy." There is "no excuse for a law that goes out of its way to stigmatize a particular disease and separate parents from children, sisters from brothers, and people of all stripes from their work, travel and dreams of a better life," they add. "Actions matter," Kerry and Smith write, adding, "Leading by example in the fight against HIV/AIDS has left millions in the developing world grateful to America for our lifesaving help." It is "time we sent the same message by finally ending our needlessly discriminatory laws penalizing those with HIV/AIDS," the authors conclude (Kerry/Smith, Washington Times, 6/25).