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House and Senate Pass Repeal of the HIV Travel/Immigration Ban

Jul 28, 2008

As reported from: AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08071867 (posted Jul. 28, 2008) On 07/24/2008, the House passed the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5501) by roll call vote #531, 303-115. On 07/16/08, the Senate passed the same bill (S. 2731). The bill will now be sent to the president for his signature. President Bush, who championed the original law in 2003 (PL 108-25) and pushed for reauthorization this year, is expected to sign the bill into law.

The bill authorizes $48 billion over the next five years to fight AIDS and other diseases overseas. The bill includes a provision that would repeal the HIV travel/immigration ban by amending the current health-related ground of inadmissibility to exclude any reference to HIV. This provision returns the authority to the Department of Health and Human Services to determine whether individuals with HIV should be permitted to travel to the U.S.

The ban, a long-standing discriminatory policy against individuals with HIV/AIDS, was enacted in 1987 at a time of rampant fear about the HIV virus and how it is spread. While the Department of Health and Human Services evaluates all other diseases to determine if a travel ban is appropriate, only HIV has been designated as a ground of inadmissibility in the U.S. Code. The ban has created one of the world's harshest immigration policies for individuals who are HIV-positive: the U.S. is one of only 12 countries including Iraq, Libya and Syria that ban travel for individuals with HIV.

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