HIV and Sports

You'd think, wouldn't you, that if people with HIV can engage in sports, we should all celebrate. It's a symbol of overcoming illness, staring down stigma and living fully. So I'm delighted to see that the Homeland Security Department has temporarily waived the ban on any non-American with HIV from entering the United States for the Gay Games in Chicago this summer. It's still stunning to me, however, that the Bush administration, which has done so much to advance treatment for people with HIV and AIDS in the developing world, should still be perpetuating stigma by keeping the (largely unenforceable) ban on all HIV-positive visitors from legal entry into the U.S. Nothing stigmatizes a disease more than a country saying that no-one with HIV can enter its borders or become one of its citizens if he or she is HIV-positive. Being HIV-positive should not bar anyone from becoming an American citizen. But it does. You could remove the worry about people coming to the U.S. for free medical care by adjusting waiver requirements to ensure that immigrants have private health insurance before they get here. The stigma can be ended - if the administration finds a way.