End travel restrictions for people with HIV!

Did you know that “HIV is the only medical condition that renders people inadmissible to the United States”?  I didn’t.  I had no idea that the US places strict travel restrictions on people living with HIV/AIDS until I read this excellent editorial by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) published in Wednesday’s Washington Times.

Okay, maybe I was just ignorant about this.  On the other hand, it’s easy to see why this particular law isn’t exactly flaunted in front of the American public.  According to Kerry and Smith, the US is “just one of 12 countries that prohibit, almost without exception, HIV-positive non-citizens from entering the country (China has recently overturned its ban). This policy places the United States in the same company as Sudan, Russia, Libya and Saudi Arabia.”

I’m thinking they don’t mean that last part as a compliment.  In fact, Kerry and Smith have introduced the HIV Nondiscrimination in Travel and Immigration Act, which would overturn the bans.  The Act is included in the Senate version of the PEPFAR re-authorization.

I don’t want to comment on this too much, because you should really, really read the article.  Not only does it speak persuasively about the travel ban, it also addresses the broader issue of stigma, and looks at how our understanding of HIV/AIDS has grown over the past two decades (the point being that our attitudes should have kept pace). 

I’m with the senators on this one: the travel restrictions need to go!

(By the way, I love seeing this kind of bipartisan action on the AIDS pandemic.  HIV/AIDS isn’t an issue that fits within party lines.  I’m very grateful for Kerry, Smith, and the many other politicians — in Washington and elsewhere — who realize this and act accordingly.)


~ by h.e.g. on June 30, 2008.

One Response to “End travel restrictions for people with HIV!”


    There are some simple steps all HIV-positive tourists can take regardless of their destinations to minimize chances of undue customs delays or outright deportation:

    * Look healthy. Travelers who appear to be ill are likely to be targeted for indepth questioning or inspections.

    * Be discreet and polite.Don’t draw any undue attention to yourself that could cause customs officials to pull you aside.

    * Don’t advertise the fact that you’re HIV-positive. It pains me to have to give that kind of advice, but you might not want to wear a PLWHA t-shirt.

    * Keep your anti-HIV medications in their original bottles, and do not attempt to hide the containers. If you’re hiding them customs officials may think they contain contraband and may hold you to verify that they are permitted into the country.Opening packages or taking pills out of their prescription bottles will delay your time in security(more info).

    *Pack extra medicine and supplies when traveling in case you are away from home longer than you expect or there are travel delays.

    *If you are taking injectable medications (e.g., Fuzeon, insulin, testosterone) you must have the medication along with you in order to carry empty syringes(more info).

    *Depending on the circumstances it may be worthwhile taking along a doctor’s certificate (in English) which shows that the holder is reliant on the medication and that it has been prescribed by the doctor.Carry a copy of your prescriptions in your carry-on, purse, or wallet when you travel.

    *You can ask and are entitled to a private screening to maintain your confidentiality. Show copies of your prescriptions and/or your medication bottles and if you have any problems ask to see a supervisor.

    In general, the above points apply to entering countries with ambiguous or restrictive regulations: as long as HIV positive status does not become known, there will be no serious problems for a tourist. However, if someone is suspected of being HIV positive, or if the authorities have concrete reasons to believe they are, entry may be refused. Since october 2008 non-immigrant US visas are granted to HIV-positive people who meet certain requirements, instead of waiting for a special waiver from DHS(more info).

    My philosophy on the whole issue is that it’s not an issue, so I don’t present it as one.And I’ve never had any problems over the years of extensive travel.


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