January 7, 2010 at 10:21 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
U.S. lifts ban on HIV-positive visitors, immigrants

WASHINGTON — The nation’s 23-year-old ban on HIV-positive visitors and immigrants was lifted this week, winning praise from LGBT groups.

“The United States of America has moved one step closer to helping combat the stigma and ignorance that still too often guides public policy debates around HIV/AIDS,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “This policy, in place for more than two decades, was unnecessary, ineffective and lacked any public health justification.”

As part of the reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, President Bush in July 2008 signed a provision that removed the ban from statute and returned regulatory authority to the Secretary of Health & Human Services. Obama administration officials erased the last remaining vestiges of the ban Jan. 4.

“Today, a sad chapter in our nation’s response to people with HIV and AIDS has finally come to a close and we are a better nation for it,” Solmonese said.

The travel and immigration ban prohibited HIV-positive foreign nationals from entering the U.S. unless they obtained a special waiver that could be difficult to secure and only allowed for short-term travel.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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