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Monday, August 11, 2008

US finally opens borders to HIV+

After more than two decades on the books, a little-known yet strictly enforced federal law barring foreigners with HIV or AIDS from entering the country is on its way out.

Tucked in a bill pledging $48 billion to combat the disease, signed into law by President Bush last week, was language stripping the provision from federal immigration law.

But that change didn't fully lift the entry ban on visitors with HIV or AIDS, which applies whether they're on tourist jaunts or seeking longer stays. The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services still needs to delete HIV from the agency's list of “communicable diseases of public health significance,” which includes tuberculosis, gonorrhea and leprosy.

An April report from the Congressional Budget Office said that, based on information from HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV will be dropped from the list and new regulations will be in place in two years.

In a speech before signing the law, President Bush emphasized that “HIV's deadly stigma” is still a societal obstacle because patients still don't receive mainstream acceptance.



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