I have a great deal of respect for Laura Bush. She's been a close-to-flawless First Lady, and a small bastion against bigotry in the White House. She and her husband also deserve kudos for their aggressive approach to the AIDS and HIV epidemic across the world. Yesterday, she wrote:
This summer, in Africa, I saw a schoolyard sign urging an end to stigmatization: "A friend with AIDS is still a friend." World AIDS Day is a time to extend a hand of friendship to the 33 million people -- including a million of our fellow Americans -- living with HIV.
Agreed. But how can the US support this admirable position while it bars any non-citizen with HIV from even entering the US as a tourist? And while it now proposes to make the burdens of those visitors and tourists with HIV even heavier? The other countries with this policy are Sudan, Iraq, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Are they really America's role models in countering the stigma of HIV? Even China has now lifted its HIV travel ban. But the Bush administration continues to enforce the Jesse Helms policy. The president's own advisory council on HIV wants it lifted. So why continue it - and make it even worse?