August 1, 2008
HIV Travel Ban to be Lifted, but Not Yet
President George W. Bush signed a law on July 30 eliminating travel restrictions on HIV-positive foreigners entering the United States. However, experts warn that reversing the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation may take months or may not happen at all until the next administration enters the White House, Gay City News reports (gaycitynews.com, 7/31).
According to the article, HHS must now begin a potentially lengthy ban removal process with the Federal Register, where proposed federal laws are published. After a proposed rule is taken there, it undergoes a comment period—which can last up to 90 days—until it is finalized.
“We’ll be reviewing what steps we need to take to implement the new law, including whether or not a posting in the Federal Register is needed,” an HHS spokesman told Gay City News.
In addition, a May 9 memo from White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten said that all federal agencies must propose any new regulations for the remainder of the Bush administration by June 1 and finalize them by November 1. Exceptions would be considered only in “extraordinary circumstances.” This may mean that the move to lift the travel ban has missed the deadline and would not go into effect until a new president is sworn in.
“We are going to push to get them to do this as expeditiously as possible,” says Ronald Johnson, deputy director of lobbying group AIDS Action. “I’m optimistic that there is willingness within the administration.… The advocacy community is very determined to press the administration to immediately start the process to lift the travel and immigration ban.”
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