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U.S. Travel Ban Lifted

By: Skylar Zwick
By: Skylar Zwick

Am I the only person whose never heard of the "HIV travel ban?"

Call me crazy. Perhaps I've been living under a rock, but this was news to me: The U.S. has had a travel ban in effect for some 22-years, baring people with HIV from traveling and immigrating into the country.

Am I the only person who had never heard of this "law?"

According to the Associated Press, President Obama "signed a bill in October to overturn a 22-year-old travel and immigration ban against people with the HIV virus, which causes AIDS." It officially went into effect on January 1st, along with similar bills in South
Korea that eliminated travel restrictions for people with the HIV virus. United Nations is now praising the United
States and South Korea for lifting the travel bans and "urging 57 other countries with travel restrictions to end them quickly."

Here's where the conundrum starts for me. First of all, I'd like to know how these people were screened at the airport or how TSA officials knew they were HIV positive to prevent them from traveling into the U.S. At last check, my passport didn't say "HIV-free" and I don't have to click "HIV-negative" to purchase an airline ticket online. So, how does anyone know? Beyond that, where was the public cry of discrimination? I've seen blockades of protesters form against marriages, police presence and a lack of handicap ramps at schools, but I don't recall in the last 20-years that I've been flying, ever seeing someone picketing because they were barred from flying due to an immune deficiency. 

Perhaps I'm missing something or missed the news that day, but this story seemed to come out of nowhere and really shocked me. What do you think? First of all, would you support the ban being repealed? Were you ever aware that such a ban existed? How would you have handled it if someone you knew was barred from flying because of HIV?

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