Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
In his first televised speech about HIV/AIDS since becoming President, Obama announced last Friday that the HIV travel ban will end “just after the New Year.” Obama also signed the Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization and talked about the need to continue to combat the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“We’re going to take another step today towards ending that stigma. Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban for people entering the country living with HIV/AIDS. We talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, but we treat a visitor living with it like a threat,” Obama said. “If we want to be a global leader in combatting HIV/AIDS we need to act like it. And that’s why on Monday, my administration will publish a final rule, effective just after the New Year.”
He praised Congress and President Bush for starting this process (when they reauthorized PEPFAR in 2008) and said “we’re finishing the job.” “It’s a step that will save lives,” he said. See video below.
The regulation also removes the requirement that immigrants be tested for HIV at the time of their arrival.
While lifting the HIV travel ban was the biggest news (particularly for any immigrants and travelers who want to enter the U.S.)—and the fourth Ryan White reauthorization a distant second—this speech is also notable as the first address Obama has given on HIV/AIDS since becoming President
“Often overlooked is that we face an AIDS epidemic right here in Washington, D.C. and right here in America,” Obama said at the beginning of his prepared remarks.
In the ten minute speech, he also thanked Jeanne White, Ryan White’s mother, members of Congress and the “HIV/AIDS community” for their work drafting the Ryan White CARE Act consensus document (and gave specific shoutouts to San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Ernest Hopkins; NAPWA Executive Director Frank Oldham and NASTAD Executive Director Julie Scofield, all standing behind him when he signed Ryan White into law).
Obama also praised Jeffrey Crowley, director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, and the National AIDS Strategy community forums that are occuring throughout the country. Noticeably absent from the talk? Not a peep about lifting the federal ban on syringe exchange.
But Nancy Ordover, who founded the Lift the Bar Coalition, and has worked to lift the travel ban for years, said this victory shows that fights are winnabe.
“This is testament to that old adage that nothing feels like it’s going to change until it changes,” Ordover said. “The movement let this battle lie for a decade. But, ultimately, we were able to turn around a policy that’s really destructive and so entrenched. I hope this can be a good lesson for other sights that seem unwinnable.”
If you’re an HIV-positive immigrant and want to know how you’ll be affected by this change, go to immigrationequality.orgblog comments powered by Disqus
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