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For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights Hails Proposed Removal of HIV Entry Ban

Urges Health Professionals and Students to Voice Their Support

Cambridge, Mass - 07/02/2009

Cambridge, MA – Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) called on the nation's health professionals and students to lead efforts to show strong public support for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's proposal to lift US entry restrictions on people living with HIV/AIDS. The CDC's proposed rule removing HIV from the definition of "communicable disease of public health significance" was published in the Federal Register today, with a 45-day period for public comment.

"We applaud the CDC for moving forward with the process to remove the nation's Draconian restrictions denying people living with HIV entry into the United States," said Pat Daoust, MSN, RN, Director of PHR's Health Action AIDS Campaign. "It is well past time for the United States to enact HIV entry policies rooted in sound public health and human rights practices and the nation's health professionals will speak out strongly in favor of the final adoption of the proposed rule."

The implementation of a final rule will complete a process that began in July 2008 with the passage of bipartisan reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The legislation, signed into law by President George W. Bush, included a provision to remove a statutory requirement denying people living with HIV entry into the U.S as visitors and immigrants.

"We're glad to see the proposed regulation change released for comment because America must take proactive steps to reaffirm its global leadership and commitment to the treatment of the AIDS epidemic," said Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA), an outspoken leader on this issue.

HIV entry and travel restrictions violate the human rights to privacy, freedom of movement and freedom from discrimination of people living with HIV. There is no scientific evidence supporting such restrictions as an effective means of preventing HIV infections or reducing public healthcare costs. Over 200 health groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the World Health Organization, have opposed the current US policy.

PHR worked for removal of the ban through PEPFAR and has repeatedly called on the Department of Health and Human Services to swiftly complete the administrative process required to completely remove the ban.

Written comments on CDC's proposed rule may be submitted electronically at http://regulations.gov, or via email to Part34HIVcomments@cdc.gov.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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