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Obama Says U.S. to Lift Ban on HIV-Positive Travelers

Saturday, October 31, 2009

By Kate Andersen Brower
Bloomberg

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said the U.S. will eliminate a 22-year-old ban on foreign nationals with HIV entering the country, saying it will be a step toward removing the stigma from the disease and encourage testing.

“We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic, yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people with HIV from entering,” Obama said today at the White House. “If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS we need to act like it.”

Obama made the announcement as he signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, reauthorizing a federal program that provides HIV-related health care.

The lifting of the travel ban was initiated last year by Congress when it approved legislation funding HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs sought by then-President George W. Bush.

The legislation eliminated the statutory requirement that HIV-infected travelers be excluded from entry to the U.S. and left it to the Department of Health and Human Services to decide on a final rule. Obama announced today that HHS will publish new rules on Nov. 2, to take effect Jan. 4, 2010.

Funding for Treatment

The Ryan White law was first authorized by Congress in 1990. Its reauthorization passed the Senate on Oct. 19 and the House on Oct. 21. According to the program’s Web site, it provides $2.1 billion to people “who do not have sufficient health care coverage” and financial help in coping with HIV. The funds are administered by HHS, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the HIV/AIDS Bureau....(Remainder.)

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