The Advocate often relies on the Associated Press for daily news updates posted on their online site so it wasn't surprising to see an AP story pop up on the site about statements made on Friday by Australian Prime Minister John Howard "people with the AIDS virus should not be allowed to migrate to Australia."
No mention in the AP blurb or elsewhere on the site that the United States also has banned HIV+ people from immigrating to this country since 1990.
Searching for "HIV ban" on their site the only reference is a pro-immigration statement that I signed, along with another 54 activists, which the Advocate Online reprinted in April of last year.
To be fair, the print edition of The Advocate has addressed the HIV ban in past articles that are not available online but it made me wonder if the online news editor had any inkling that a ban also exists in this country.
In the past, we have questioned the Advocate's reliance on the AP wires as their main source for their online news, particularly when the AP kept sending stories that unilaterally focused on anti-gay activities and statements by conservative institutions in Puerto Rico without mention of pro-gay developments (or advocacy) in the island. The editor at the time replied that "we are an extremely small company with no full-time Web staff and do not have the resources to do original reporting for our Web site, so we rely on wire coverage and other media whose work we can summarize for our readers" - but that was a few years back.
Online portals being what they are today and considering improvement in original reporting in their print edition, let's hope that The Advocate is making moves to improve it's original reporting online as well.
Queerty, who never sees an Advocate blurb it doesn't like, screams "Australia has discovered a cure for AIDS: Banishment!" but it takes a reader to point out to them that, yes, the policy they're criticizing editorially is actually this country's policy as well.
False hopes? As for the United States HIV ban, President George W. Bush raised hopes last December that he might be open to changing the law when he directed the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to "initiate a rulemaking that would propose a categorical waiver" for HIV travelers in the United States but Gay Men's Health Crisis and Immigration Equality issued a joint press release warning that the President's order "does not rescind HIV travel ban."
Coalition to Lift the Ban: A number of local - read: NY metropolitan area - HIV service providers, immigration advocates and agencies are organizing a community forum for May 15th on this topic. In their statement they say:
"For twenty years U.S. policy has banned HIV + non-citizens from traveling and immigrating to the U.S., supposedly to protect public health and minimize public costs. Yet forcing HIV+ immigrants underground, and discouraging preventative care, the bar increases the risk to public health and the cost of health care, while limiting the lives of affected immigrants in incalculable ways."
I may ad that a foreign student that might qualify for a student visa, a foreign worker that might qualify for a work-related visa, or a foreign person that might qualify for residency status based on a petition by a brother or sister who is a citizen of the United States, will not be allowed to gain entry into the United States if they are HIV+.
There are only limited waivers when the petition is made by parents of an HIV+ child or through marriage.
Feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like additional information on the May 15th forum.
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