Skip to Main Content
Printer Friendly Home > Press > Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights applauds end of US HIV Travel Ban

Cambridge, Mass - 10/30/2009

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) applauds President Obama’s October 30 announcement that the US will end the “HIV Travel Ban”, which has barred entry to the US for HIV-positive visitors and immigrants since 1987. Until this historic announcement, the US was one of only 7 countries with laws that ban entry of people with HIV.

“Today is a great day for human rights and for people living with AIDS, their friends and their families,” said PHR CEO Frank Donaghue. “The HIV Travel Ban made the United States a pariah in human rights circles, and harmed our reputation as a world leader of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. Starting in 2010, people living with HIV will no longer be prevented from entering this country, no longer turned away at customs, no longer forced to hide their condition and interrupt medical treatment, and no longer be treated by our government with contempt.”

PHR members had sent in thousands of comments to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Health and Human Services, urging them to lift the ban.

Said one PHR member from Boston, “In my roles with an international NGO, a US university recognized world-wide, and one of the top 10 US teaching-hospitals, I work with people around the world who are fighting HIV/AIDS daily. Many of these brave and selfless health care workers are themselves infected with HIV — but that should in no way limit their ability to visit the US and learn from others working in this field.”

PHR is sharing this monumental policy change — which will allow people living with AIDS to enter the United States, help unite families and discourage stigma — with colleagues from across the globe. “A few years ago at a PHR human rights training in Kenya, I met an HIV positive activist who urged us to take care of a glaring human rights violation in our own country — the HIV Travel Ban,” said Sarah Kalloch, PHR Director of Outreach. “That night, we went back to our hotel and started sending emails. Thousands of PHR members did the same. Now, I get to send the best email ever — to colleagues in Kenya, telling them the ban has been lifted.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

PHR News