USA: Remove HIV Entry Ban

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are proposing the removal of HIV infection from the list of diseases that keeps people who are not U.S. citizens from entering the United States. In effect, this would lift the HIV entry ban so that a) HIV infection would no longer be included on the list of “communicable diseases of public health significance;” b) Testing for HIV infection would no longer be required as part of the U.S. Immigration medical screening process; and c) HIV infection would no longer require a waiver for entry into the United States.

The regulation was written in 1987, when HIV was poorly understood. This proposed change to the regulations reflects public health science, the current understanding of how HIV spreads, and international human rights standards including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Health Regulations, and the United Nations Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights.

The ban unfairly sets people with HIV apart from those with other diseases and disabilities, despite the fact that HIV is not transmitted casually. It plays into hostility and hatred toward persons with HIV. This ban has long been used to target marginalized groups of people for exclusion, including men who have sex with men. Rather than promoting the human rights of people in need of protection, it promotes social stigma and isolation for people who are HIV positive both within and outside the United States. This discrimination decreases the accessibility and availability of HIV education and treatment, increasing the risk to people with HIV/AIDS and to global public health.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) supports the removal of the HIV entry ban by removing HIV infection from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance. IGLHRC has submitted comments supporting the proposed regulation change, which you can read here.

You can submit your own comments until Friday, August 14, 2009 on this proposed regulation by clicking here or emailing Part34HIVcomments@cdc.gov.