Conservative Group Seeks To Revoke Waiver on Travel Ban for HIV-Positive Foreigners Attending Gay Games 2006
The conservative group Illinois Family Institute is calling for the Department of Homeland Security to revoke its decision to waive a regulation barring HIV-positive nonresidents from entering the country without special permission in order to admit foreigners attending the Gay Games 2006 in Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reports (Konkol, Chicago Sun-Times, 3/16). The U.S. government usually waives the ban for major events and conferences. The government earlier this year granted the games Designated Event Status, which allows HIV-positive foreigners to travel to the U.S. using travel visas issued on a special form instead of being placed permanently in the applicant's passport. Travelers do not have to declare their HIV status on the application -- they can mark "N/A" on the form. The games will be held July 15-July 22 and the waiver is effective from July 8-July 28 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/8). Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) urged DHS to issue the waiver. Peter LaBarbera, IFI executive director, said the waiver poses a potential public health threat. He added that one of the event's sponsors, a men's bathhouse, promotes "reckless sexual behavior" that could "pave the way for spreading" HIV. The group is seeking the help of influential conservative groups to pressure DHS to rescind the waiver, according to LaBarbera, the Sun Times reports. Gay Games Co-Vice Chair Kevin Boyer said linking the Gay Games to the spread of HIV was a form of "abhorrent and irresponsible ... fear mongering." About 12,000 athletes from 100 countries are expected to participate in the event (Chicago Sun-Times, 3/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.