U.S. repeals law banning HIV+ foreign visitors, immigrants

The U.S. law banning HIV-positive foreign visitors and immigrants was
repealed by Congress in July and President George W. Bush signed the
measure July 30.

The repeal, inserted in legislation to reauthorize PEPFAR, the
President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, passed the Senate 80-16 on
July 16 and the House of Representatives 303-115 on July 24.

But Bush's signature does not do away with the ban just yet. Instead, it
returned authority for determining whether HIV is a "communicable
disease of public health significance" to the administrative level, at
the Department of Health and Human Services.

"The HIV travel and immigration ban performs no public health service,
is unnecessary and ineffective," said Human Rights Campaign President
Joe Solmonese. "We … ask Secretary of Health and Human Services (Mike)
Leavitt to remove the remaining regulatory barriers to HIV-positive
visitors and immigrants."

The administrative ban has been in place since 1987, and the statutory
ban came into existence in 1993.

PEPFAR will send $48 billion to Africa over the next five years to fight
AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., called the
bill "the single most significant thing the president has done."

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