British AIDS Advocacy Group Launches Campaign to Change U.S. Policy on Entry Restrictions for Those With HIV
The Terrence Higgins Trust, a British AIDS advocacy group, is launching a campaign aimed at changing U.S. entry restrictions placed on HIV-positive individuals, the Guardian reports. Under a law "pushed through" Congress in the 1980s by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), people with HIV cannot legally immigrate to the United States, and those seeking tourist or business visas must obtain a waiver to enter the country. Their passports are marked to show that they may not enter the United States without a waiver, which must be obtained on each visit. The Guardian reports that because British citizens do not need to obtain visas for short-term business or pleasure travel to the United States, many HIV-positive British people are not aware that they need special permission to enter the country until they receive arrival forms on the plane that ask them to declare their HIV status. People can lie about their status, but because HIV-positive individuals are often on several medications, which they must bring with them while traveling, they run the risk of discovery if their bags are searched. THT also reports that HIV-positive individuals with passport stamps marking them ineligible to enter the United States sometimes face problems when attempting to enter other countries, where officials question the markings. However, a spokesperson from the U.S. embassy in London said people with HIV are "routinely" allowed into the country. "People are given visas and the waiver many times and do travel on holidays, business and as students. It is a public health issue. In some cases it is a financial concern as well. It is not saying there is anything wrong with the person," the spokesperson added. HIV-positive individuals must show proof that they have "sufficient health insurance" to cover any treatment that may be needed while in the country in order to obtain the waiver (Boseley, Guardian, 3/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.