Update on HIV Travel Ban – Public Comment Now Accepted at CDC

Vermont CARES has blogged about the U.S. government’s discriminatory ban on travel and immigration by people with HIV in the past (see post linked here at:  https://vermontcares.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/senate-votes-to-repeal-travel-ban/). 

We are happy to post an update on this story.  Despite a delay of some 12 months, the government has drafted proposed rule changes that would allow travel and immigration by people with HIV into the U.S.  This is positive movement to end this form of discrimination and stigma, and we all have an additional roughly two weeks to post comments and feedback on this proposed elimination of the travel ban. 

Below is an excerpt from Vermont CARES’ response to the federal government.  We encourage you to make your voice heard as well.  One easy way to email comments to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is through this weblink:  http://www.immigrationequality.org/template3.php?pageid=1142  (We don’t necessarily endorse or discourage the work of Immigration Equality, but this is one of the simplest forms we’ve found to register feedback.) 

Another method for showing you want the ban removed is to copy the address and RE: line of this letter posted below, and mail a note by post with your own comments.  Comments are allowed through August 17th, 2009. 

Thank you for helping us make a difference for all of us affected by HIV and AIDS.

Letter follows:

August 4, 2009


Division of Global Migration and Quarantine

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Attn: Part 34 NPRM Comments

1600 Clifton Road, N.E., MS E-08

Atlanta, GA 30333


Re: Letter in support of eliminating HIV travel ban relative to Docket No. CDC – 2008 – 0001



Vermont CARES is the largest and longest-serving HIV/AIDS Service Organization in Vermont.  We provide advocacy and outreach designed to better the lives of all people with HIV.  In this light, we strongly support lifting the immigration ban on visitors and immigrants living with HIV.  We write this letter in response to the CDC’s publication in July 2009 in the Federal Register of proposed rulemaking that would remove HIV from the definition of communicable disease of “public health significance.” 


We support in full this rule change for the following reasons:


  • HIV is not a casually communicable virus. HIV can only be transmitted by very specific behaviors, and does not spread through airborne or casual contact. 


  • A broad ban against travel and immigration by people with HIV is discriminatory and runs counter to national interests and ethics.  This ban has more to do with stigmas, misperceptions, and fears about HIV than it does with science and solid public health protection strategies. 


  • This is not the right response to HIV either nationally or internationally.   The United States, by enforcing this ban, is misappropriating resources that could otherwise be used for national or international prevention or treatment efforts.  This short-sighted, scientifically unsound, and discriminatory ban wastes resources in a time when prevention and treatment are needed more than ever before because of rising HIV infection rates here and abroad.


For these reasons, we fully support and formally request the removal of HIV from the definition of “communicable diseases of public health significance.”  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions about the ramifications of this current travel and immigration ban in Vermont.  I can be reached at our Burlington office at 800/649.2437. 




Peter Jacobsen

Executive Director

Vermont CARES

3 Responses to “Update on HIV Travel Ban – Public Comment Now Accepted at CDC”

  1. 1 vermontcares
    August 31, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    No word yet as to how HHS is processing any comments it received; we will of course update the blog as we learn more about this potential change to travel rules into the U.S. Comments were due two weeks ago, so the timeline may last well into the fall for actually implementing any changes. We’ve put in calls and are checking the CDC website periodically.

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