UN welcomes United States removal of entry restriction based on HIV status

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), issued a statement saying the move by US President Barack Obama overturns a restriction that was discriminatory and did not protect public health.“Today’s announcement reinforces the position of the US as a global leader in HIV policy and practice,” Mr. Sidibé said. “This policy change is a significant step forward by the United States towards promoting human rights in the AIDS response.”The statement noted that the US Government had already concluded that maintaining HIV status on a list of excludable entry conditions would not result in public health benefits and contributed towards the stigmatization of HIV-infected people.Mr. Obama announced the change today as he signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, which has provided treatment and support services to people living with HIV since 1990. The legislation is named after Ryan White, a teenage boy who became a nationally known figure in the US in the 1980s as he battled discrimination and ostracism after contracting HIV from a contaminated blood treatment. He died in 1990.Mr. Sidibé said UNAIDS described the Ryan White programme “as an integral part of the global AIDS response and a gesture of the United States towards achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people within the United States living with HIV.” 30 October 2009The United Nations agency spearheading the world body’s efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic today welcomed the decision of the United States to remove 22-year-old entry restrictions based on HIV status.

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