The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Scott Sanders
(202) 332-2303
Cell: (202) 486-8761

Jirair Ratevosian
(617) 301-4212
Cell: (818) 620-3171

Human Rights Advocates Urge Sebelius to Act Swiftly

US is one of only 14 nations that bar entry of people living with HIV or require disclosure for short-term stays


As Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary-designate Kathleen
Sebelius begins her Senate confirmation hearings, leading human rights
advocates urged her to move quickly upon her confirmation to lift US
restrictions on the entry of people living with HIV into the United
States. The HHS regulation is opposed by over 200 health groups,
including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health
Association, and the World Health Organization.

"It is far past time for the US to join the community of nations
whose HIV entry policies are rooted in sound public health practices,
rather than discrimination and ignorance," said Pat Daoust, MSN, RN,
Director of Physicians for Human Rights' Health Action AIDS campaign.

The US is one of 14 countries that either refuse entry of people
living with HIV or require disclosure of HIV infection even for
short-term stays. The other 13 are Brunei, Egypt, Iraq, Malaysia, Oman,
Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Tunisia, Turks and Caicos, United
Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

In July 2008 as part of the bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the
President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Congress
removed the statutory requirement to deny people living with HIV entry
into the US as visitors and immigrants. However, HIV remains on HHS's
list of communicable diseases that limit entry into the US. There is no
scientific evidence supporting the ban as an effective strategy for
preventing HIV infections or reducing public healthcare costs. Further,
the current law violates the human rights to freedom of movement,
freedom from discrimination, and privacy.

"Just as the Administration moved swiftly to reverse the HHS
'conscience rule,' so too should they act with due haste to uphold the
human rights of people living with HIV and ensure that US travel and
immigration policies are rooted in sound public health principles,"
said Daoust. "Congress paved the way for a reasoned HIV travel policy
by lifting the statutory ban last summer and now the Obama
Administration must finish the job."

PHR was founded in 1986 on the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to investigate the health consequences of human rights violations and work to stop them. PHR mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice and promotes the right to health for all.