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Good news from the White House! President Obama announced today that the US will overturn its current law banning HIV-positive individuals from entering the United States as tourists or immigrants. He explained that lifting the ban will help end stigma against people with HIV/AIDS; in fact, the ban itself has kept many people from getting tested and, therefore, could even be said to increase the spread of the disease.
Put into place by the Department of Health and Human Services, the initial ban went into effect back in 1987, "at a time of widespread fear and ignorance about the disease." However, while education and awareness have increased over the years, it has taken 22 years to change it. That's a long time for the families kept many families apart and "thousands of students, tourists and refugees", not to mention children up for adoption, who have been kept out for their HIV status alone. As an American with many international friends and who is committed to the idea of the US being a welcoming, diverse place to visit or to live for everyone, I have been very disturbed by the increasing amount of hurdles for those wishing to visit, study or emigrate to the United States. I find this to be great news for everyone, not just those living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones, and hope the change occurs swiftly and smoothly.
Other countries that currently have such bans include Armenia, Brunei, Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Sudan.
For more information on HIV and AIDS from Scarleteen, we recommend the following articles:
Positively Informed: An HIV/AIDS Roundup
The STI Files: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
World AIDS Day (2001)
Scarleteen volunteer and blogger, Lena, was previously known as Femke here at the blog.