November 4, 2009

November 4, 2009

Thanks for joining me for another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and we have made it through to the middle of another work week. It has been a very busy one for me as usual.

I forgot to report some great news from the other day when Ryan White funding was signed by our President.

The Obama Administration removed HIV-related travel restrictions to the United States, overturning a horrible discriminatory policy that had been in place since 1987.

HIV infection has been on the Immigration and Nationality Act’s list of “communicable diseases of public health significance,” meaning that HIV-positive foreign nationals could not enter the U.S. legally unless granted a waiver for a short-term visa by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The policy also denied citizenship to anyone living with HIV who applies for a green card. The rule lifting the ban – issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the Federal Register – is effective as of Jan. 4, 2010.

The policy to reverse restrictions on travel by HIV positive foreign nationals was a part of the Lantos/Hyde Leadership Against AIDS, TB and Malaria Act of 2008 (HR 5501), which was enacted into law July 2008 by President Bush. However, the process to change regulations did not begin until the start of the new administration. The Global Health Council and a number of its member organizations recommended to then-President-elect Obama’s transition team that the ban be rescinded.

The new regulation eliminates any travel and immigration restrictions that are tied to a person's HIV status. HHS put the wheels of change in motion in late June by publishing the proposed rule to the Federal Register, triggering a 45 day public comment period. The final rule was issued October 30th.

So while Dab the AIDS Bear and I played a part in Washington DC helping to get the travel ban revoked, it was because of all the calls you made that made the difference. From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to thank you for ending the discriminatory practice and helping the United States become the leaders we should be on the issue.

As usual I am trying to keep up my workout routine. Today was another leg and abs day. As I approach 50, I am trying to keep everything pointing east and west instead of letting things head south. The older I get the harder it seems to be to accomplish.

I would also like to thank all of you for your wonderful encouraging emails and messages. While no one should ever get into activism for praise or glory, it always helps to know people appreciate what you are trying to do for others.

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

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab