HIV Travel Ban to be Lifted January 2010!

President Obama has been key  to lifting  the ban on people with HIV/AIDS entering the United States.  It is a significant step in promoting equality for people with the disease.

As it was, the ban stopped people who have lived legally in this country for years from going abroad out of fear that they would not be allowed back in. The U.S. has been among a dozen countries that bar entry to travelers with visas or anyone seeking a green card based on their HIV status. The law effectively has kept out thousands of students, tourists and refugees and has complicated the adoption of children with HIV.

The ban was put into place in 1987, when it was widely thought that HIV could be spread as easily as a cold. Now many more treatments for the disease exist, and there is no reason to fear that allowing people with HIV into the country will significantly impact its spread.

On a bigger scale, after 22 years, the biennial International AIDS Conference will return to the United States in 2012.

The six-day summit has drawn in recent years about 25,000 HIV/AIDS researchers, medical professionals, activists and policy makers. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the decision to bring the conference to Washington in 2012 during a White House event on the eve of World AIDS Day.

During the event, Clinton’s condemnation of laws that criminalize being gay drew applause.

“We have to stand against any efforts to marginalize and criminalize and penalize members of the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community worldwide. It is an unacceptable step backwards on behalf of human rights, but it is also a step that undermines the effectiveness of efforts to fight the disease worldwide,” she said.

Immigration Equality, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBT immigrants, said the ban took a heavy toll on the U.S.

“The United States has paid a heavy price, in terms of its reputation in the scientific community, because of its antiquated policies on HIV-positive immigrants and visitors,” Steve Ralls, director of communications for the group, told On Top Magazine in an email.

The new rule goes into effect on January 4!