Saturday, October 31, 2009

Obama Ends 22-Year Ban on HIV-Positive Visitors


Today, President Obama ended what has to be one of the most shameful laws in recent times. For years and years, it has been against the law for people with HIV/AIDS to travel to this country. Some actually have been detained at airports and forced back on planes to return to their departure point. International HIV/AIDS conferences have not been held in the United States since it has been illegal for many of the delegates to enter the United States.

Several years ago, I was with dear friends in Amsterdam. They had hosted me with a boat ride on the canals and then a splendid dinner with amazing conversation late into the night. The evening was special. As we were winding down, I offered to return the hospitality and urged them to visit me in the states. There was dead silence in the room. Finally one of my friends said in a low voice, "We won't travel to the United States as long as there is a ban on HIV people entering your nation." An overwhelming sense of shame came over me. There was simply nothing I could say in response.

With increasingly encouraging momentum, President Obama filled another one of his promises today and lifted the HIV/AIDS ban on visitors to this country. With a stroke of a pen, he ended this horrific and shameful practice. Nice going Mr. President. We can all hold our heads a little higher today.
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