Immigration Policy and the Importation of AIDS
After more than two decades on the books, a little-known yet strictly enforced federal law barring foreigners with HIV or AIDS from entering the country is on its way out.
Tucked in a bill pledging $48 billion to combat the disease, signed into law by President Bush last week, was language stripping the provision from federal immigration law.
But that change didn't fully lift the entry ban on visitors with HIV or AIDS, which applies whether they're on tourist jaunts or seeking longer stays. The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services still needs to delete HIV from the agency's list of “communicable diseases of public health significance,” which includes tuberculosis, gonorrhea and leprosy.
An HHS spokeswoman declined to comment, noting administrators are still reviewing the new law. An April report from the Congressional Budget Office said that, based on information from HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV will be dropped from the list and new regulations will be in place in two years.
Both immigrant and HIV awareness advocates, however, say the toughest hurdle has been cleared, that the lifting of the immigration provision has been a long time coming — politics finally catching up with medical knowledge.
I had thought immigration policy was designed to benefit those already here. Silly me.