Advocates Call for Lifting of U.S. HIV/AIDS-Related Travel Restrictions
Some advocates are hoping to use a Senate draft bill (S 2731) that would reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to reverse U.S. HIV/AIDS-related travel restrictions, the AP/Google.com reports. According to the AP/Google.com, language in the draft bill, which is scheduled to be considered Thursday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would delete a regulation that only permits HIV-positive foreigners to obtain visas to enter the U.S. under limited circumstances. The regulation, included in a 1993 amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act, also requires HIV-positive foreigners to obtain waivers from the Department of Homeland Security before they can receive visas.
The House version of the PEPFAR bill does not include the language repealing the travel regulations, according to the AP/Google.com. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) have introduced a stand-alone measure that would change the travel rules. Lee said supporters thought it would be easier to get the travel provision through the Senate's version of the PEPFAR bill, adding that they will try to ensure it remains in the final version of the bill. Kerry and Lee on Tuesday joined Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese on a conference call to push for reversing the restrictions. Kerry said that reversing the travel restrictions is a "reform that is long needed." Lee said that the International AIDS Society conferences have not been held in the U.S. since Congress passed the restriction. She added, "We're once again very isolated on this policy in terms of the world community."
According to the AP/Google.com, draft rules proposed by the Homeland Security Department that would change U.S. HIV-related travel rules have not been finalized. Some advocates and Democrats have objected to the proposed rules, saying that the rules do not improve the situation (Werner, AP/Google.com, 3/11).