Week 5: History is as Old as Me?

26 07 2010

On January 4th 2010, the US HIV Ban on travel and immigration, which had been in place for more than two decades, finally came to an end under the Obama Administration. After a 60 day waiting period, the final regulations, which were published by the Department of Health and Human Services on November 2nd 2009, became law. The regulations remove HIV from the list of “communicable diseases of public health significance,” meaning that anyone seeking to enter the U.S. as a visitor can now do so without having to disclose his or her HIV status. The regulations also remove the HIV testing requirement for lawful permanent resident applicants.

China did the same in April 2010.

What does this mean to common people like you and me, regardless of citizenship? —- this is a new assignment that I got from the director of the Policy and Information Division, the office that I am interning at this summer. He wants me to do some research on this new US policy and compare the response of the fellow American citizens with that of the common Chinese people.

It is tough task! In my point of view, this policy is too new to be effectively evaluated statistically yet. However, as a fellow citizen, I feel that this is a tough decision for anyone to make: to support the policy or not? Personally I think it really does not matter that much if HIV infected persons are granted with legal immigration or not, based on their HIV status— HIV is not transmitted casually, no one can get infected just by casually interacting with HIV positive people. What important is that we need to prevent and control, and that is when money speaks louder than morality. HIV treatment is a big expenditure. Allowing HIV positive immigrants to a country means that this country will have to take care of them, make sure that they do not transmit it to other people, make sure that they are getting treatment properly. This is where I cannot make a decision of whether it is good or bad to lift the ban. On one hand, we got human rights, equality issues, on the other hand, we got cost issues— Banning foreign HIV positive persons from entering a country does not necessarily mean that this country is a better place for the fellow citizens, because they are still exposed to HIV/AIDS; lifting the ban does not mean that this country is going to be in a chaos, because the new HIV infected arrivals might produce more wealth than cost for the country.

The US Travel Ban of HIV is now a history of my age. What does this history say about you and me? Or what do we say about this history? Think about it.

– Yuqian Liu

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