Today, the first of December, is a day that will go down in history. It marks the first World AIDS day in which HIV-positive non-citizens are no longer banned from entering the U.S. or barred from becoming a lawful permanent resident . Last January, the HIV ban on travel and immigration, which had been in place for two decades, was finally abolished. The regulations removed HIV from the list of “communicable diseases of public health significance,” meaning that anyone seeking to enter the U.S. as a visitor would be able to do so without having to disclose his or her HIV status, and could no longer be denied a visa for that very reason. The regulations also removed the HIV testing as a requirement for lawful permanent resident applicants.
Although until now the HIV ban seemed like a permanent fixture, with the incredibly hard work done by a broad coalition of immigration lawyers , HIV, LGBT, and human rights organizations, and after taking years to build-up in momentum- perseverance finally brought this discrimination in immigration law to an end. Now, immigrants who are HIV-positive can move forward in their lives by coming out of the illegal underground where they had been cast off to, and can seek out solutions such as applying for lawful permanent residence, knowing that HIV testing would no longer be a part of the required medical exam.
The importance of this change cannot be overstated. For the first time ever on this commemorative day, supporters of this cause in progressive cities like Miami , New York , and San Francisco will stand parallel to those in other great cities of the world that treat this affliction with compassion instead of repulsion. Since the championing of the discriminatory policy, this first anniversary marks an exemplary occasion for thanks-giving.