A British health activist scheduled to speak on June 17 at the Pacific Health Summit 2009 in Seattle was denied a U.S. visa because he is HIV positive, The Seattle Times reports.

According to the article, Paul Thorn, project director of The Tuberculosis Survival Project, was scheduled to participate in a discussion on preventing and treating TB, which the summit is focusing on this year. In a written statement, Thorn apologized for his absence and lambasted the United States’ delay in lifting its travel restrictions on HIV-positive foreigners. While former president George W. Bush lifted the travel ban last summer, the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to finalize it.

“The U.S. government actively discriminates against people who have been tested for the HIV virus and have been diagnosed HIV positive,” he said in the statement read by Lucy Chesire of the Kenya AIDS NGO Consortium. He added that if Americans want to be global health leaders, “then they need to accept that non-U.S. citizens with HIV are going to need to be there and participate.”

In his statement, Thorn called on the Obama Administration to remove its HIV-related travel restrictions promptly and urged others to do the same.