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Wednesday 14 April 2010

HIV infection no longer a bar to USA entry

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News, HIV
By Daily News staff - 16th February 2010

HIV positive New Zealanders no longer need risk their ability to visit or pass through the USA by having to declare their HIV status on their American arrival forms.

Body Positive Auckland, the country's largest HIV peer-support and advocacy organisation, says the Obama administration's announcement late last year that HIV will no longer be an issue has now become a practical reality with HIV being struck off the list of communicable diseases people entering the country must declare.

The online ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) form which all people visiting or transiting through the USA must now complete before boarding their aircraft includes the question: "Do you have a communicable disease?" In the past answering 'yes' has seen "many HIV positive people denied entry to the 'States," says Body Positive.

In comparison to other public health diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV has always been extremely difficult to contract in normal social settings. Now, says Body Positive, HIV has finally been removed as a disease of concern by the US Centres for Disease Control. The USA is one of the last Western countries to lift an HIV ban. Many third world countries have allowed HIV positive visitors to cross their borders unimpeded for years.

Auckland gay travel consultant Blair Bauer of Stars Travel confirms Body Positive's understanding. "The 'visa on arrival' form no longer includes HIV as a risk factor which must be declared as a communicable disease," Bauer says. "HIV positive people can now just click or tick 'no' in answer to that question."

Bauer adds that the US Department of Health and Human Services, which has in the past been concerned about people with HIV entering the country and becoming a burden on its health services, has also now formally removed HIV as a risk.

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