HIV-positive visitors can enter the U.S. – about damn time!

Well, it was about damn time, don’t you think?

President Bush – in one of those rare, correct things he does from time to time – has just signed an executive order making it unnecessary for HIV+ visitors and tourists to obtain such a waiver.

For the uninitiated, people who are HIV/AIDS positive cannot enter the U.S. without a special waiver. Anyone who has filed for an immigrant visa (or knows someone who does) is quite familiar with this process. Part of the process is complete medical examination, complete with bloodwork. The results get sent straight to the U.S. embassy in question. If you are HIV/AIDS positive, the chances of getting your visa approved are zilch.

Imagine the following scenarios. If someone wants to lawfully immigrate to the U.S., but has AIDS, well then, he/she better pay a coyote anywhere from $2000-$5000 USD, because that visa is never going to get approved. If a woman is a victim of say, the rape and violence women experience during the conflict in Darfur, and requests political asylum, this request might get denied (notice I say might, as I’m not an immigration lawyer). So much for human rights!

And if some prominent HIV/AIDS activists would want to plan or attend an international AIDS conference in the U.S., those activists need waivers.

Because of the rule, organizers of the biannual International AIDS Conferences have not held a gathering in the United States since 1990, when San Francisco hosted the event.

And you wonder why there’s so much stigma against AIDS in the U.S.

By the way, this was actually started by Bill Clinton when he was president. It is a complete irony that the man that started this policy is now, literally, a global force against AIDS. And while President Bush deserves kudos for this, the one who deserves it even more is the new Global AIDS Coordinator, Dr. Mark Dybul, a gay physician who has treated AIDS patients in San Francisco. Yes, the one the religious right condemned because he not only had the guts to bring his homosexual partner, Jason Claire, to the swearing in ceremony by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but brought Claire’s mother as well! Dr. Rice referred to Mr. Claire’s mother as “mother-in-law.”

Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, swears in Mark A. Dybul, as the new coordinator of the U.S. Global AIDS office.

Oh, and Laura Bush was there as well.

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