This regulation significantly improves the opportunities for individuals seeking to visit the U.S. who were previously inadmissible because of an HIV infection,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Under the new regulation, Department of State officers are authorized to grant temporary, non-immigrant visas to HIV-positive individuals who otherwise meet all eligibility requirements. The rule will not publicly identify any traveler as being HIV positive.
Since 1952, U.S. laws have banned individuals “who were afflicted with any dangerous contagious disease” from receiving a visa to enter the United States. In 1987, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to add HIV to the list of diseases that were of “public health significance,” and thus considered dangerous and contagious.
President Bush’s signing of the United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 on July 30, 2008 removed the statutory requirement that mandated inclusion of HIV on the list of diseases of public health significance, which lead to the new, streamlined visa process. The Act did not, however, automatically change the status of HIV on HHS’s list of communicable diseases of public health significance. HHS is currently in the process of updating the status of HIV on its list.
The United States is one of only about a dozen countries, including Libya, Russia, Saudi Arabia and , that has such a ban.