The United Nations praised the U.S. and South Korea on Monday, Jan. 4 for lifting travel bans on people with HIV and urged 57 other countries with travel restrictions to end them quickly. President Barack Obama announced in October that the U.S. would overturn a 22-year-old travel ban against people with HIV, and the new rule eliminating the ban came into force on Monday. South Korea eliminated travel restrictions for people with the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, on Jan. 1.
Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, which coordinates the U.N.’s AIDS response, called the policy changes "a victory for human rights on two sides of the globe."
Ending the restrictions means travelers who are HIV positive can now enter both countries.
In the United States, the ban has kept out thousands of students, tourists and refugees and has complicated the adoption of children with HIV. No major international AIDS conference has been held in the U.S. since 1993, because HIV-positive activists and researchers could not enter the country. In 1987, at a time of widespread fear and ignorance about HIV, the Department of Health and Human Services added HIV to the list of communicable diseases that disqualified a person from entering the U.S.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 8, 2010.