by Bradford McIntyre
September 1, 2004 - While nearly a million HIV+ American citizens
enjoy the freedom to leave and travel outside their country, the
United States government prohibits HIV+ individuals from other
countries entry to the United States! Without a doubt, this ban
is the most blatant display of discrimination against HIV+ people
to date! This ban continues to fuel discrimination, while a worldwide
community strives to stop the stigma and discrimination surrounding
HIV and AIDS!
It is obvious that there is little understanding
of HIV or compassion from the American government and other countries,
which impose such a ban. I am a Canadian. I am OUT about my HIV
infection publicly and as such, I am not allowed to visit the
United States. Are individuals who are infected with HIV to be
continually and indefinitely discriminated against purely on the
basis of their viral infection?
At 52 years of age and HIV+ for 20 years, I am unable
to enter the United States whether to visit friends or to vacation.
I have been unable to submit abstracts for conferences and unable
to accept invitations to participate at HIV/AIDS events held in
the United States. This problem plagues many HIV+ people forcing
them to lie to immigration officers and to hide their medications
or worse to stop their medications, which may put them at even
greater risk of developing drug resistance and illness!
Today, when families are spread out far and wide
all over the world, many are not able to visit their relatives
or friends who reside in the United States. Others who wish to
enter the USA may have varied reasons for travel such as: seeking
and/or receiving specific medical attention, attending conferences
and providing HIV education and awareness.
People of all ages and from all walks of life are
infected with HIV. This virus may or may not cause progression
to disease or death. There are HIV+ individuals living a happy
and full life with or without medications. Some individuals who
engaged in drug treatments have been able to discontinue their
medications for months and even years. There are infected individuals
who have never had any immune suppression and have never had any
HIV replicated in their bodies. There are individuals who know
they are infected but who refuse to be tested for fear of discrimination.
There are doctors, nurses and health care workers who were infected
accidentally. Some people were infected through receiving HIV
tainted blood. There are HIV+ individuals who are now seniors.
Infected individuals are in loving relationships. Mothers gave
birth and now, their children are grown and having children. There
are HIV+ individuals who have survived since the first cases were
diagnosed. Any one of the examples above is sufficient reason
for removing the ban!
We are not criminals! People infected with HIV are
no different from anyone else and are not asking to be different!
Unfortunately, they are infected with a virus. When people hear
that HIV+ individuals are banned from entering the United States,
they are shocked initially and then are disgusted that access
is denied on this basis.
This discriminatory ban, which prevents HIV+ individuals
from entering the United States is ethically wrong and should
be lifted immediately!
copyright © Bradford McIntyre
"UNAIDS Criticizes HIV Travel Restrictions"
Voice of America [12.06.04]
UNAIDS and the International Organization for Migration
(IOM) are concerned about the increasing number of countries that
impose travel restrictions requiring foreigners test for HIV prior
to entry. About 60 countries - including the United States, Russia,
China and many Arab countries - require mandatory testing. Most
only require the restrictions on long-term visitors, such as students,
workers and refugees, but some nations require exams for short-term
visitors who plan on touring or conducting business. Both groups
call on the 60 countries to lift their travel restrictions, which
can discourage people from utilizing HIV prevention and care services,
thus driving the disease underground, said Mary Haour-Knipe, HIV/AIDS
coordinator for IOM. The policies also may create the false impression
that HIV/AIDS is a foreign problem that can be controlled by border
restrictions, she said, which could lead to a dangerous complacency
in which people do not practice safe sex or take other preventative
steps. "There is no public health justification for trying to
keep HIV out of the country by requiring people to have a test,"
said Haour-Knipe. "In fact, it is counter-productive for public
health. What it does is, since it excludes people who have HIV,
it adds to the climate of stigma and discrimination against people
living with HIV." Travelers with HIV do not pose a public health
threat, as HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact, she said.
U.S. HIV Travel Ban
Mr. Obama, please lift this ban!
August 24, 2009 - On August 16th 2009, supporters of lifting the 22 year-old U.S. HIV travel ban,
from both Canada and the United States, enjoyed the Sunday morning sunshine in a spectacular outdoor setting, in Peace Arch Park,
at the border between Canada and the United States.
US lifts HIV/Aids immigration ban
04 January 2010 - The US has lifted a 22-year immigration ban which has stopped anyone with HIV/Aids from entering the country.