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Obama To Announce End of HIV Travel & Immigration Ban

Immigration Equality has confirmed that President Obama will announce the end of the HIV Travel and Immigration Ban later this morning, in conjunction with his renewal of the Ryan White Act. President Obama’s announcement will coincide with publication of a rule change in the federal register which, following a 60 day waiting period, will signal the official end of the ban.

The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld also reported on the impending announcement today, writing on the magazine’s site that, “The new regulation eliminates any travel and immigration restrictions that are tied to a person’s HIV status. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) put the wheels of change in motion in late June by publishing the proposed regulation to the federal register, which triggered a 45-day public comment period. HHS has now sent the final change to the Office of Management and Budget for approval, but the source said HHS would not be able to fully implement the new regulation for another 60 days following the president’s announcement.”

“My understanding was that this would be announced the same day as the Ryan White Act was signed into law,” said a source, who spoke to The Advocate on the condition of anonymity. “The White House wanted to be out in front on this.”

“At long last, people living with HIV will no longer be pointlessly barred from this country,” Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality’s executive director, said. “Every day, Immigration Equality hears from individuals and families who have been separated because of the ban, with no benefit to the public health. Now, those families can be reunited.”

Check back here soon for more information. And for legal questions pertaining to repeal of the ban, click here to contact an Immigration Equality attorney.

UPDATE: Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who helped lead the charge for repeal in Congress, just provided Immigration Equality with this statement about today’s news: “Today a discriminatory travel and immigration ban has gone the way of the dinosaur and we’re glad it’s finally extinct. It sure took too long to get here. We’ve now removed one more hurdle in our fight against AIDS, and it’s long overdue for people living with HIV who battle against stigma and bigotry day in and day out.”

UPDATE 2: Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) who led the House effort to repeal the ban, just weighed in as well: “I believe that ending this policy is long overdue, and will lend greater credibility to U.S. foreign assistance efforts to fight the global HIV/AIDS epidemic,” the Congresswoman said. “Particularly, it will aid in combating the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, and further erode discriminatory travel and immigration policies in other countries.”