Obama to lift HIV/AIDS travel ban

Oct. 30, 2009 at 1:59 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- The ban on HIV/AIDS-infected visitors and immigrants entering the United States will be repealed after the New Year, President Barack Obama announced Friday.

"We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic -- yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bars people from HIV from entering our own country," Obama said during a signing ceremony for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009.

Obama said a final rule would be published in the Federal Register that eliminates the travel ban effective just after Jan. 1.

"If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it," he said. "Congress and President (George W.) Bush began this process last year ... . We are finishing the job."

The re-authorization bill is named for Ryan White, the Indiana teen who became the poster child of the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus and AIDS in the United States. White was expelled from school when news of his infection became public, eventually having to move elsewhere.

"Ryan showed the courage and strength," Obama said. "And because he did, we didn't just become more informed about HIV/AIDS, we began to take action to fight it."

Obama noted that the legislation has evolved from an emergency response to a comprehensive national program since it was enacted nearly 20 years ago.

"We can't give Ryan White back" to his mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, who attended the ceremony, Obama said.

"But what we can do," he said, "is honor the courage that he and his family showed. What we can do is to take more action and educate more people. What we can do is keep fighting each and every day until we eliminate this disease from the face of the Earth."

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