Obama Lifts US Travel Ban on HIV-infected; Updated AIDS Bill Puts New Focus on Testing
President Overturns 22 Year Ban on HIV-positive Travelers to US; also Signs Ryan White CARE Act, Which Places New Emphasis on Testing, Calling for 5 Million HIV Tests Annually
Los Angeles, CA - October 30, 2009 - AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today lauded President Barack Obama for lifting a 22 year-old ban prohibiting HIV-positive foreigners from traveling to the US. The US was one of only twelve countries with such a travel ban. Obama announced repeal of the ban after signing the legislation renewing the Ryan White CARE Act, the federal law that authorizes the primary source of funding for AIDS care and services nationwide. The updated CARE Act, which Obama signed earlier today in Washington with the mother of Ryan White in attendance, places a newfound emphasis on testing, calling for five million HIV tests to be done annually.
"President Obama deserves praise for lifting the 22 year-old ban on travel to the US by HIV-infected people or those living with AIDS," said Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "This ban only served to reinforce stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS, and its repeal is long overdue. The travel ban was an enormous black eye on US humanitarian efforts such as PEPFAR, the US' widely respected global AIDS program. With the repeal of this ban, major international AIDS conferences may once again be held here in this country, something that has not happened throughout the ban. In addition, the updated version of the Ryan White CARE Act that Obama signed into law today provides another watershed moment: the bill puts a newfound-and crucial-emphasis on HIV testing, with directives that five million HIV tests be done annually. At present, fully one-quarter of the 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the US are currently unaware of their HIV status. Stepped up testing, as this bill requires, with linkage to treatment when needed, should go a long way to help address the problem of people unaware of their HIV status unwittingly passing on their infection to others."
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the US' largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 80,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at www.aidshealth.org
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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Associate Director of Communications, AHF
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