Ending the HIV Travel Ban

The federal government is finally in the process of lifting the travel ban on individuals who are HIV positive. For many years, one of the blogosphere’s most vocal critics of the ban has been U.S.-resident Brit Andrew Sullivan. Last month he was already predicting the eventual success of the legislation that ended the ban, known as President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR):

Obviously, the bigger achievement in PEPFAR is the funding for continued help for those with HIV and AIDS in the developing world – people whose plight is unimaginably worse than mine or so many others trapped by this HIV law. Bush’s legacy in this is one for which he is rightly proud. But for those of us who have long dreamed of becoming Americans, and have been prevented by 1993 law from even being able to enter or leave the US without waivers or fear or humiliation, this is a massive burden lifted.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s one of the happiest days of my whole life. For two and a half decades, I have longed to be a citizen of the country I love and have made my home. I now can. There is no greater feeling.

Andrew made it through the years that the ban was in place, but the San Antonio Express-News’ Hernán Rozemberg reminds us that not everyone was so lucky:

Howard Wallen of New York tried to get papers to bring his wife into the country from Ethiopia, where he met her in 2002, later marrying her and having a daughter. They soon found out Abeba’s HIV status prevented her from coming to the United States with him.

She eventually died from AIDS — an outcome that might have been different had she received therapy in the United States, Wallen said.

“She deserved the dignity of that chance,” he said.