The San Francisco AIDS Foundation applauds President Obama for lifting the ban on HIV-positive people from entering the United States, a move that brings an end to years of discrimination and blatant disregard of science.
“Today’s action by the president returns the United States to its rightful role as a leader in human rights and in the global struggle against HIV/AIDS,” said Mark Cloutier, the CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the president of its global affiliate, the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation. “The ban was not justified by scientific evidence and undermined our efforts to fight the AIDS epidemic.”
The President’s announcement came during a signing ceremony at the White House for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009
, which reauthorizes the largest federal program designed specifically to assist uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS.
The travel ban has prevented prospective immigrants, foreign students, refugees and tourists from entering the United States since 1987, when Congress declared that people living with HIV/AIDS were an exceptional threat – a rationale that was not supported by any public health evidence. As a result, the ban prevented the United States from hosting international conferences by restricting access to HIV-positive scientists and advocates.
“In addition to helping erase the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, lifting the travel ban will serve as a catalyst for bringing more educational exchanges and scientific conferences to the United States,” Cloutier said.
As part of last year’s renewal of the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Congress authorized the White House to lift the ban, and Obama’s action today, which he called “a step that will save lives,” was the last step necessary to overturn it. Until today’s announcement, the United States was one of only several countries, including Libya, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, with laws that bar entry of people with HIV.
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation: The San Francisco AIDS Foundation provides leadership to prevent new HIV infections. Linking community experience with science, the Foundation develops ground-breaking prevention programs and bold policy initiatives to promote health and create sustainable progress against HIV. Established in 1982, the Foundation refuses to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable. For more information, go to sfaf.org.
About Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation: The Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation specializes in developing and executing HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention strategies in medically underserved locations with large HIV-positive populations. Pangaea works with local partners to strengthen existing health care systems and to increase access to HIV prevention and treatment. For more information, go to www.pgaf.org.