Prior to July 30, 2008, people with HIV were excluded from immigrating to, or even visiting, the United States. On July 30, 2008, President Bush signed into law the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which repealed the ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants in the United States. When an HIV positive person wanted to travel to the United States or apply for legal permanent resident status, she or he needed to still obtain a waiver of inadmissibility. On January 4, 2010, the HIV ban was finally lifted, and new regulations published by the Department of Health and Human Services became law. These regulations officially remove HIV from DHHS' list of “communicable diseases of public health significance.” This means that a person can now enter the United States without disclosing his or her HIV status, and there is no longer a requirement for HIV testing of lawful permanent resident applicants.1 The National Lawyers Guild's National Immigration Project's website contains information on the 2010 change in policy, including government memoranda.
As this major change is implemented, many questions arise about how this will impact people, and there have been inconsistent results.2 Some doctors still use the old medical forms, which do require HIV testing and disclosure, but Centers for Disease Control is working to ensure that physicians do not test for HIV or request disclosure. Individuals who were denied lawful permanent residency only because the applicant was HIV positive after July 2009 (when the final regulations were published) can move to reopen their applications.3
Because there is still a great deal of inconsistency and confusion about what the lifting of the HIV travel ban actually means for individuals, many groups have published FAQs to share the information that is currently known. Immigration Equality, a national organization working to end discrimination in immigration law and reduce the negative impact on LGBT individuals and families, has produced a helpful web document in English and Spanish about what the end of the HIV ban actually means for individuals.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medical Examination of Aliens- Removal of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) From Definition of Communicable Disease of Public Health Significance, Department of Health and Human Services, 42 CFR Part 34, Docket No. CDC-2009-0003, Last visited August 1, 2012. ↩
United States Immigration Services, Memorandum: Public Law 110-293, 42 CFR 34.2(b), and Inadmissibility Due to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection, November 24, 2009, Last visited August 1, 2012. ↩