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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