Monday, January 4, 2010

HIV Travel Ban to US Ends Today

The Red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with...Image via Wikipedia
In 1988 in a misguided effort to stem the spread of AIDS, the US government, under the senile leadership of Ronald Reagan, imposed a ban on travel into the US for people with HIV/AIDS. Although the move had virtually no effect on the spread of the epidemic, the ban has been kept in place for 22 years.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, by the end of 2006,  1.1 million Americans were living with diagnosed or undiagnosed HIV/AIDS. Someone is infected with HIV in the US every 9 1/2 minutes. 53% of all HIV transmission occurs in male-to-male sexual contact.

In October, President Obama signed an order lifting the travel ban, which takes effect today. On Top reports:
Gay group Immigration Equality will welcome two men from the Netherlands on Monday as the U.S. officially ends its travel restrictions on HIV-positive people.

Clemens Ruland and Hugo Bausch will arrive in New York City just hours after the United States ends its 22-year-old policy that banned HIV-positive people from entering the country. The couple will visit old friends, shop and enjoy the city during a one week stay.

Steve Ralls, communications director for Immigration Equality, a group that advocates on behalf of GLBT immigrants, told On Top Magazine that the men are believed to be the first to visit under the new policy.

Ruland, 45, works with young people in the criminal system. He was infected in New York by an ex-lover and diagnosed HIV-positive in 1997. Anti Retroviral Therapy has kept his virus load undetectable. He returned to visit the U.S. once in 2005, but said he feared being detained. Bausch, 50, an illustrator, is HIV-negative.

The Dutch AIDS service organization SOAAIDS is behind the visit. Ruland entered a poem into the group's essay contest to win the couple's passage to New York City.

The Bush administration approved the end of the travel ban in June 2008, but failed to implement the regulatory changes to end the restrictions. President Obama called the travel ban a “decision rooted in fear rather than fact” in announcing the policy's January 4, 2010 end.

Ruland's winning poem:


No more lies

No more pretending

No more hiding

In the crevices of exclusion


to the land

where once lay my destiny

in one viral load

Free I am

Free to travel

To hug, share, love

And once more be united

Alive and proud

I turn to you, America

America, here I come

Come as I am


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