This week's Senate confirmation hearing for President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) offers a key opportunity to press the Administration on its plans to end the US ban on the entry of people living with HIV/AIDS.
With last summer's passage of PEPFAR, Congress removed the statutory requirement to deny people living with HIV entry into the U.S as visitors and immigrants. However, HIV remains on the HHS list of "communicable diseases of public health significance," preventing the entry of people living with HIV into the US, despite the lack of scientific evidence supporting the ban as an effective strategy for preventing HIV infections or reducing public healthcare costs. The current law also violates the human rights to privacy, freedom of movement and freedom from discrimination.
Pat Daoust, MSN, RN, the Director of the Physicians for Human Rights Health Action AIDS campaign, said today:
It is far past time for the US to join the community of nations whose HIV entry policies are rooted in sound public health practices, rather than discrimination and ignorance.
What You Can Do
Senators can use the confirmation hearings for President Obama's Secretary of HHS to urge the nominee, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, to lift the ban swiftly once in office.
Contact Senate committee members Mikulski and Sanders and urge them to press Secretary-designate Sebelius on the Obama administration's plans for repealing the highly discriminatory ban.
You may reach Senator Barbara Mikulski's office at (202) 224-4654.
You may reach Senator Bernie Sanders' office at (202) 224-5141.
Suggested script for your call:
- Hello, I am a member of Physicians for Human Rights calling regarding the confirmation hearing of HHS Secretary-designate Kathleen Sebelius.
- I would like the Senator to ask a question regarding her plans to remove HIV from the list of communicable diseases that prevent entry to the US.
Travel restrictions violate the human rights of people living with HIV and place the US among 14 countries that either refuse entry of people living with HIV or require disclosure of HIV infection even for short-term stays. With your help, we can ensure that reducing HIV discrimination and defending human rights is a priority for Secretary Sebelius on day one.