President Obama Announces New Rules Today
For more than a year, advocates and government officials have been working to end the 22-year-old travel ban on people with HIV entering the United States. Today, President Obama finished the process, announcing the new rules as he signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, noting, “If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it. And that’s why on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year.”
In 1987, the US Public Health Service first issued the ban. That same year, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) added HIV to a list of travel restrictions, approved unanimously by Congress. In 1993, Congress added the HIV ban to immigration laws, further strengthening the policy. Repeal efforts throughout the years failed until 2008 when Congress voted to end the ban and then-President Bush signed the measure.
“Transgender people, along with other vulnerable populations, are particularly at risk for HIV and AIDS. We applaud this long-overdue change in federal policy,” remarked Mara Keisling, the Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Our government policies should be grounded in science, not in myth. We know that travelers with HIV are not a threat to our country and there is no reason to bar them from entry.”
For more information about transgender people and HIV/AIDS, visit the Center for Excellence for Transgender HIV Prevention.