HIV Entry Ban Undermines Public Health

GMHC Report Claims Immigrants Diagnosed With HIV Later Than Native-Born

New York, N.Y. -- Today Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) released a new report, Undermining Public Health and Human Rights: The United States HIV Travel and Immigration Ban. The report details the history of the U.S. HIV travel and immigration ban, including its public health, human rights, and economic tolls. The report also highlights new research that analyzes HIV-related disparities experienced by immigrants.

According to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene data, immigrants are more likely (32%) to be diagnosed with both HIV and AIDS than their native born counterparts (24%), a marker of both late diagnosis and poor access to healthcare. HIV incidence among foreign-born New Yorkers steadily increased from 2001-2006. In 2001, they accounted for 15% of new HIV diagnoses in New York City versus 24% in 2007.

Although the HIV entry ban was adopted in 1987 to ostensibly keep HIV out of the country, research shows that, in fact, most immigrants contract HIV after entering the U.S. This research is presented in the GMHC report.

"Our report documents the devastating impact of the discriminatory U.S. travel and immigration ban that has for decades contributed to HIV-related stigma and the proliferation of HIV in immigrant communities," said Marjorie J. Hill, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of GMHC. "We call on the Obama administration to expeditiously repeal the HIV travel and immigration ban."

Congress and President Bush repealed the statutory HIV ban in July 2008. However, the Department of Health and Human Services must now remove HIV from a list of communicable diseases in order to completely repeal this discriminatory policy.