The Department of Health and Human Services is requesting comments through August 17th on the pending removal of the HIV travel ban. Public comment periods allow anyone to submit thoughts on new government policy before it is implemented.
In November and December 2007, the Department of Homeland Security held a public comment period on the travel ban when it was considering increasing restrictions on HIV-positive individuals seeking entry into the US. PHR mobilized 345 health care professionals and other activists to submit comments opposing the proposed regulations and supporting a repeal of the ban. Comments from PHR supporters made up over 85% of the total comments the Department of Homeland Security received.
The proposed restrictions were not implemented, and the responses from the public comment period helped spark debate in Congress on removing the ban. Following the comment period, key legislative leaders contacted PHR directly for advice and information on the best public health and human rights practices in regard to the travel ban. Public comments make a difference!
During the 2007 public comment period, one PHR member told the Department of Homeland Security:
I, an American citizen, have suddenly found myself living this nightmare…
Three weeks ago my Italian-born husband was diagnosed with HIV during a required HIV exam taken per the U.S. Consulate in Italy. In a matter of moments… our goals, dreams and aspirations were shattered. In addition to the shock of the discovery of my husband's diagnosis, we were denied the visa.
The normal immigration process is not easy. The immigration process for an HIV-positive intending immigrant is a true nightmare. This is true today. Tomorrow, if what is being proposed is implemented and enforced, the realities of those who find themselves in similar situations will be hellish.
HIV-positive people seeking entry into the US and their families face situations like this every day.
Take action to end the discriminatory travel ban! Submit a public comment today. Although Congress has already voted the travel ban repeal into law, public comments are needed to push the Department of Health and Human Services to quickly and fully implement the repeal.