AIDS Activists Urge US to End Travel Ban for People Living with HIV

Media Release
AIDS Activists Urge US to End Travel Ban for People Living with HIV

August 13, 2009 – For Immediate Release

AIDS activists and organizations will rally this week to demand the end of the US travel and immigration restrictions for people living with HIV.

In Toronto, activists will gather on Friday, August 14 at noon in front of the US consulate, 360 University Avenue. They will carry giant petitions urging the US government to move quickly to remove the travel ban.

The US has had long-standing restrictions on HIV positive travelers and immigrants. Fortunately, there has been movement on this. The US Congress repealed the legislation banning people living with HIV from traveling to the United States over a year ago. Unfortunately, the regulations remain in place and travel is still barred or restricted. Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services began a process to actually lift the ban. It includes a 45 day public comment period, which will conclude August 17.

Activists in Canada and the US are mobilizing to try to support this process through to the finish line. The Toronto petitions will be sent down to a Sunday August 16 rally at the Fort Erie/Buffalo crossing, where the petitions will be carried across the border. That action coincides with a rally at the Peace Arch Park in Surrey British Columbia.

“We’re pleased that this discriminatory travel ban appears to be finally coming to an end,” said John Maxwell, Director of Policy and Communication at the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT). “HIV cannot be spread by casual contact, so there has never been a public health rationale for the ban.”

“Travel restrictions only add to the burden of stigma for people living with HIV,” said Shannon Ryan, Executive Director of the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (BlackCAP). “Stigma helps fuel the HIV epidemic, especially in marginalized communities.”

“Lifting this ban is long overdue,” said Kieran Daly, Executive Director of the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO). “With the ban the US currently sits alongside a very small group of countries with bad human rights records. The US will finally be consistent with most of the rest of the world.”

For more information:
John Maxwell, Director of Policy & Communications, AIDS Committee of Toronto
416-340-8484 x 245
Kieran Daly, Executive Director, International Council of AIDS Service Organizations
416-921-0018 x 21