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President Obama ends Antiquated Travel Ban on Immigrants Living with HIV/AIDS

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In a major step forward for immigrants living with HIV and/or AIDS, President Obama has removed a travel ban that prevented them from entering the US on any type of Visa.  As reported by the AIDS Network Legal Services Attorneys, federal regulations interpreted HIV/AIDS as a “communicable disease of public health significance” and for this reason, those living with it were denied entry.  Not only were immigrants required to present their HIV status on Visa applications, but they were also required to undergo HIV testing during the mandatory medical exam for lawful permanent resident applications.

The new law will effectively eliminate the need for a waiver in order for a person living with HIV/AIDS to gain lawful permanent residency in the United States. Previous to this change, the process of obtaining a waiver was above and beyond the typical difficulty level of gaining lawful permanent residency.  Visa applicants were previously asked their HIV status – and as of January 4, 2010, there is no longer a required HIV waiver.  The AIDS NLSA estimates that this will allow an estimated 4,275 immigrants who suffer from HIV to enter the US on a yearly basis.

Not only does this change directly affect the families of those HIV/AIDS immigrants that have been barred from the US until now, but it brings the US to the forefront of the movement for equality to those living with this disease.  The new law not only encourages the equal treatment of those living with AIDS, but it shows the United States is willing to make a global stand in its opinion of those living with HIV/AIDS in foreign countries – that they are as deserving to live and prosper here as any other immigrant who is willing to try.

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