AIDS Meeting Demands Lift of U.S. Ban on HIV-Infected Visitors

This item was updated with a list of other countries with similar bans and a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The International AIDS Society (IAS), which stages the biannual international meeting that attract more than 20,000 attendees, says it is considering holding the 2012 gathering in Washington, D.C. But before it holds the conference anywhere in the United States, the federal government must change a law that bans HIV-infected people from entering the country.

IAS moved the 1992 conference from Boston to Amsterdam because the U.S. government instituted the ban; the conference has not been held in the country since. “This long-standing law, which is contrary to all scientific evidence and human rights principles, is one of the U.S.’s weakest spots in HIV policy,” said IAS president Julio Montaner in a statement.

The U.S. Congress repealed the law in July 2008, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services still has HIV on the list of communicable diseases that bar entry. The international AIDS conference was previously held in Washington, D.C., in 1987.

Eight other countries have a similar HIV immigration ban: Brunei, China, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

In a statement to ScienceInsider, HHS said it has submitted  "a notice of proposed rule-making to implement this change" to the Office of Management and Budget for its review.