October 2, 2008

October 2, 2008
Welcome to another day in my life. I hope you are having a great week so far.

I know the past few blogs have been talking about the problems were are having in our country. But I finally have some good news to announce. Well at least it is good news for travelers with HIV and AIDS.

Being HIV-positive will no longer be a bar to the granting of a visa to visit the USA, according to new rules issued by the US Department of Homeland Security. US consular officials will now have the authority to grant visas for short visits to otherwise eligible HIV-positive individuals without having to obtain a special “waiver.” But a visa must be obtained before travel to the US.

The new rule, called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Waiver Final Rule was announced on September 29th and can be read here. It applies to people with HIV who wish to visit the US for up to 30 days. HIV-positive individuals who wish to make short visits to the US will need to apply to their local US consulate. A visa will be granted if they meet all the normal conditions for the granting of a US visa. A granted visa will not mention HIV. But US consular officials will have to be satisfied that HIV-positive visa applicants will not engage in activities in the US that will pose a threat to public health. Eligible HIV-positive individuals will now be able to obtain a visa to visit the US on the same day as they have an interview with a consular official.

In December 2006, President George Bush announced that the process by which HIV-positive individuals who were not US citizens gained admission to the US would be streamlined. The news regulations announced by the Department of Health and Human Services are the culmination of this process. This summer, the act reauthorising PEPFAR which included a provision to repeal the act banning entry to the US by people with HIV. But this act did not change the regulations placing severe restrictions on the ability of people with HIV to enter the US. These list HIV as a “communicable disease of public-health significance.” The US Department of Health and Human Services is currently in the process of removing HIV from this list. The newly-announced rules are an intermin measure until HIV has been removed from this list.

HIV-positive people wishing to enter the US have previously had to apply for a special visa waiver. Should a person be ineligible for entry to the US under the new HIV rules, they will still have the option of applying for such a waiver. Decisions about the issuing of these are made on a case by case by the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the process can be lengthy.

Citizens of the UK and many other countries can make short visits to the US without obtaining a visa in advance from the US consulate. This option will not be available to HIV-positive individuals who, under the new rules must obtain a visa before traveling.

So on behalf of HIV positive Americans, I am glad we are no longer discriminating against foreign visitors with HIV and AIDS. Maybe now the few remaining countries with restrictions will considering doing away with theirs.

Now for some bad news, in case you have not heard, the $700 dollar billion buyout is now up to $800 million. Congress might be voting again as early as tomorrow. As of tonight, there were not enough votes to make the buyout bill pass. So stay tuned for further developments. Also, the American Stock Market was down again today. Some say it is because of the current economy. Some say it is due to our economy having become overblown and needing a correction. The end result is life is harder for those in the middle and lower classes. I have yet to hear about any real financial help for them. So tomorrow will be another day on Wall Street and I will be watching to see where they think we are headed.

I hope you had a great day. Even in the darkness, we gravitate toward the light.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab