Bay Windows Contributor - U.S. Senate Repeals HIV Travel Ban
by Max Gelber
Bay Windows Contributor
The United States Senate voted July 17 to repeal language barring people with HIV/AIDS from entering the U.S. by a vote of 80 to 16 as part of legislation reauthorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR).
While all other decisions based on communicable diseases are handled by the Department of Health and Human Services, HIV was the only disease excluded by Congressional fiat.
This repeal provision of the PEPFAR bill would officially remove the anti-HIV language from the Immigration and Nationality Act, while still leaving the HHS the ability to determine whether or not HIV is a "communicable disease of public health significance."
According to the LGBT organization Immigration Equality, a conference committee within Congress has reached an agreement on the repeal, and the House will accept the Senate's vote with over 300 votes in favor.
The president has requested Congress to send him the bill, and it is expected he will sign it, according to Immigration Equality.
"Today we are one step closer to ending a discriminatory practice that stigmatizes all those living with HIV, squanders our moral authority, and sets us back in the fight against AIDS," said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the leaders in the effort to repeal the HIV ban. "By passing PEPFAR, the Senate not only has made a powerful statement about our commitment to eradicating HIV/AIDS but we have also voted to overturn the HIV travel and immigration ban that has no foundation in public health or common sense. There was no reason for this policy to still be on the books, and I am proud to have been part of eliminating this draconian ban. I sincerely hope we can get this to the President as quickly as possible to finally end this misguided policy," said Kerry.