The late introduction of a new policy further burdening travelers to the US with HIV has caught many AIDS organizations off-guard. The new visa waiver - promised as "streamlined" - is anything but. Worse:
The 30-day deadline for public comment imposed by DHS means a cut-off date of December 6 for reactions to the new regs, leaving little time for the AIDS advocacy community to mobilize. That, Ordover told Gay City News, is a departure from standard practice for proposed new federal regulations; the time frame for public reaction isusually much longer, she said.
No other democratic country bars people with HIV from even entering their borders; no other democratic country uses HIV as a bar to becoming a permanent resident or citizen; no other democratic country treats HIV as if it were malaria. The US does solely because of a Jesse Helms conniption decades ago now, when knowledge of HIV was minuscule compared to today and subject to massive hysteria. Instead of burdening people with HIV with even more stigma, hostility and fear, the Bush administration should surely adjust its travel and immigration policies to reflect the rest of its AIDS policy: humane, destigmatizing and rational. I'm baffled why they - and the Democrats, for that matter, cannot seem to end this draconian anachronism. Increasingly, it's an international embarrassment. If China can end its ban to avoid global embarrassment during the Olympics, why cannot America? Is America really more backward than China on treating those with HIV? Here's a small measure that the Bush administration could get through Congress that would add to the kudos they deserve on tackling the global stigma of HIV.