We have big news today for both immigrants’ rights and care for folks living with AIDS. The president re-authorized four more years of the Ryan White Act (which provides care to those living with the virus) and he ended the 22-year ban on HIV positive people entering the United States.
From a Human Rights Campaign press release:
“The ban on HIV-positive visitors and immigrants was adopted through regulation over twenty years ago and codified by Congress in 1993. Under that ban, HIV-positive foreign nationals were unable to enter the U.S. unless they obtained a special waiver, which was difficult to obtain and only allowed for short-term travel, and the vast majority were unable to obtain legal permanent residency.
In July 2008, President Bush signed into law, as part of the reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a provision that removed the ban from statute and returned regulatory authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine whether HIV should remain on a list of communicable diseases that bar foreign nationals from entering the United States. In June of this year, HHS issued a proposed rule lifting the ban and seeking public comment. “
It’s been a long time coming, but finally, this discriminatory ban has been lifted. It's perhaps fitting that this news comes just after the hate crimes bill was expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity - slowly but surely, LGBT rights and the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS are being added to the national conversation and, more importantly, to our lawbooks.