August 8, 2009

August 8, 2009
People With HIV Not Allowed

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Saturday, I hope you are having a safe and great weekend so far. I am enjoying a rare down weekend before a string of public appearances with Dab the AIDS Bear in Canada and the United States.

Doing the kind of activism I do can require a lot of travel. But did you know there are countries who will denied you entrance if you have HIV and are not a citizen of that country. If not, then you will probably also be shocked to learn the United States is one of those countries.

God bless the good US of A! Leaders of the free world but ignorant enough to think allowing citizens of other countries who have HIV would make it more of a problem than it already is. I am ashamed my country has lack of compassion and intelligence to cause something like HIV to still be an issue in relation to who is allowed into our country and who is not. Should we not be spending those resources in finding terrorists instead of worrying who might have HIV. Just saying.

There are some simple steps all HIV-positive tourists can take regardless of their destinations to minimize chances of undue customs delays or outright deportation:

* Look healthy. Travelers who appear to be ill are likely to be targeted for in depth questioning or inspections.

* Be discreet and polite. Do not draw any undue attention to yourself that could cause customs officials to pull you aside.

* Do not advertise the fact that you sre HIV-positive. It pains me to have to give that kind of advice, but you might not want to wear a PLWHA t-shirt.

* Keep your anti-HIV medications in their original bottles, and do not attempt to hide the containers. If you are hiding them customs officials may think they contain contraband and may hold you to verify that they are permitted into the country. Opening packages or taking pills out of their prescription bottles will delay your time in security.

*Pack extra medicine and supplies when traveling in case you are away from home longer than you expect or there are travel delays.

*If you are taking injectable medications (e.g., Fuzeon, insulin, testosterone) you must have the medication along with you in order to carry empty syringes.

*Depending on the circumstances it may be worthwhile taking along a doctor’s certificate (in English) which shows that the holder is reliant on the medication and that it has been prescribed by the doctor. Carry a copy of your prescriptions in your carry on, purse, or wallet when you travel.

*You can ask and are entitled to a private screening to maintain your confidentiality. Show copies of your prescriptions and/or your medication bottles and if you have any problems ask to see a supervisor.

In general, the above points apply to entering countries with ambiguous or restrictive regulations: as long as HIV positive status does not become known, there will be no serious problems for a tourist. However, if someone is suspected of being HIV positive, or if the authorities have concrete reasons to believe they are, entry may be refused. Since October 2008 non-immigrant US visas are granted to HIV-positive people who meet certain requirements, instead of waiting for a special waiver from DHS.

My philosophy on the whole issue is that it is not an issue, so I do not present it as one. And luckily I have never had any problems over the years of extensive travel.

Currently, revoking the US HIV travel ban is on the docket in DC. Please contact your elected officials and have them support revoking the ban so we can truly set the example of the communist countries which still have one.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab