10 years ago21 views
EmploymentCrossing.com AIDS activists and Democratic leaders are concerned that the Bush Administration has refused to act to lift a ban on HIV-positive persons entering the United States. On July 30th the president himself signed the bill that reversed the 15-year ban. "We write to encourage you to act quickly to remove HIV from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance and end the HIV travel and immigration ban," 58 senators told Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt. Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican Gordon Smith of Oregon were the main backers of the measure. The new law creates a five-year, $48 billion program to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis around the world, and to end the ban on HIV travelers. But the ban is still in effect, because the Department of Health and Human Services has failed to take steps to update their rules. "We're working hard to revise the regulation and it's our goal to have it completed during this administration," said HHS spokeswoman Holly Babin. She said it was "a time-consuming process and we are giving it the attention it deserves in an effort to anticipate all issues and get it right." The ban has kept out thousands of students, tourists and refugees, and complicated the adoption of children with the HIV virus. No major international AIDS conference has been held in the United States since 1993, because activists or researchers who have the virus can't gain entry. Foreign nationals in the US with the virus might not seek treatment for fear of being deported. Other nations that ban the entry of HIV patients include Libya, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan.