The Department of Homeland Security last week issued a "streamlined" policy for entry into the United States which still requires HIV positive people to seek special permission from US officials before entering the country -even for a holiday – including personal information about their medical condition and treatment regime.
"This is unacceptable treatment given what we know about HIV and AIDS in 2007," says Rachael Le Mesurier, Executive Director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. "This policy feeds discrimination, stigma and myths about the virus which are decades out of date. HIV is not a casually transmitted illness, and HIV positive people should not require special waivers to go on holiday."
US President George W. Bush called on World AIDS Day in December 2006 for the entry criteria for HIV positive people to be reviewed and simplified. The new policy took 11 months to draft and has come under fire from HIV positive support groups and AIDS organizations worldwide.
"The United States is one of only thirteen countries that bar HIV positive people from entering its borders, putting it alongside Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia, among others," Le Mesurier says. "Enforcing what amounts to an effective ban on HIV positive people travelling to the US has no basis in public health policy and is clearly discriminatory."