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July 30, 2007

Plane Talk About Privacy

Under an agreement just signed between the European Union and the United States, airlines must provide personal information on passengers traveling to the U.S. from Europe, including details about their race, religion, political affiliations, sexual orientation and health. The argument is that the September 11 attacks could have been prevented if such a system had been in place.

What does this mean for people living with HIV? The 1993 U.S. HIV travel ban already requires passengers entering the country to disclose their HIV status, so advocates are more concerned about the requirements on disclosing sexual orientation and other details of their personal lives.

“They’re maintaining that this is about counterterrorism, but they’re certainly not explaining why these specific categories are necessary to move toward that stated goal,” says Nancy Ordover, Assistant Director for Research and Federal Affairs at the New York-based Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). “How is someone’s sex life related to counterterrorism? Obviously there’s something else going on here.”

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