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Author Topic: US Drops Ban on HIV-Positive Diplomats  (Read 1107 times)

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Offline gerry

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  • Posts: 522
  • Joined AM Feb 2003
US Drops Ban on HIV-Positive Diplomats
« on: February 16, 2008, 02:12:31 PM »
US Drops Ban on HIV-Positive Diplomats

By MATTHEW LEE 15 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) Under pressure from a lawsuit, the State Department is changing rules that had disqualified HIV-positive people from becoming U.S. diplomats.

Effective Friday, the department removed HIV from a list of medical conditions that automatically prevent foreign service candidates from meeting an employment requirement that they be able to work anywhere in the world.

The change was made after consultation with medical experts and in response to a lawsuit filed by an HIV-positive man who was denied entry into the foreign service despite being otherwise qualified, the department said.

Prospective diplomats with HIV will now be considered for the foreign service on a case-by-case basis, along with those with other designated ailments like cancer to determine if they meet the "worldwide availability" standard, it said.

Officials denied that the policy had ever intentionally discriminated against HIV-positive people and noted that the policy had applied only to incoming diplomats, not those who had contracted the virus or other diseases while in the foreign service.

"We have a policy requiring that all foreign service officers be worldwide available as determined by a medical examination at the time of entry into the foreign service," said Gonzalo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman. "That has not changed."

The department's chief medical officer had "revised its medical clearance guidelines on HIV based on advances in HIV care and treatment and consultations with medical experts," Gallegos said. "The new clearance guidelines provide that HIV-positive individuals may be deemed worldwide available if certain medical conditions are met."

The decision was hailed by Lambda Legal, a New York-based group that advocates for the civil rights of homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV and represented the plaintiff in the lawsuit against the State Department.

"The new guidelines mean that candidates for Foreign Service posts who have HIV will now be assessed on a case-by-case basis, as the law requires," said Bebe Anderson, the organization's HIV project director. "At long last, the State Department is taking down its sign that read, 'People with HIV need not apply.'"

The change in policy came less than two weeks before the trial in the lawsuit brought in 2003 by Lorenzo Taylor, a trilingual international affairs specialist who passed the difficult foreign service application process but was rejected after he told the department of his HIV status.

"Now people like me who apply to the Foreign Service will not have to go through what I did," Taylor said in a statement. "They and others with HIV will know that they do not have to surrender to stigma, ignorance, fear or the efforts of anyone, even the federal government, to impose second-class citizenship on them. They can fight back."

Lambda Legal said the suit had been settled "partly due to the new guidelines," but the State Department said the policy switch was not part of the settlement.

"The change simply reflects medical advances in the area of HIV care and maintenance," Gallegos said.

Offline md

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  • Posts: 196
Re: US Drops Ban on HIV-Positive Diplomats
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2008, 03:03:08 PM »
Perhaps I am just being dumb here, but how exactly was being HIV positive previously though to be incompatible with the "worldwide availability" standard?

Was it because there were countries to which HIV positive individuals could not travel because that country had a ban on HIV positive visitors? (like, for example, the United States!)

Or was it because it was assumed that an HIV positive diplomat might drop dead at any moment or infect his colleagues simply be breathing the same air?

So, while this does seem to be a tiny step forwards, it also seems kind of ironic to me that the US still bans most HIV visitors ...

Offline pozguy75

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,239
    • POZitively Speaking
Re: US Drops Ban on HIV-Positive Diplomats
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2008, 03:09:26 PM »
I read this, this morning...and MD, the exact same thought occurred to me as well.

Maybe, just maybe, Congress will use this as leverage to eliminate the ban on HIV positive people coming into the US...
Dx 2005
ATRIPLA

Offline Iggy

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  • Posts: 2,435
Re: US Drops Ban on HIV-Positive Diplomats
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2008, 08:07:40 PM »
First, Gerry, thank you for posting this!  It is an amazing accomplishment in this Republican Administration which I assume is based on a flood of pent up desire to correct fallacies and prejudices where previously politically ruled impossible, but now deemed possible.   Like all leaps forward, I am torn between admiration at the move forward and frustration at the time it took.

Perhaps I am just being dumb here, but how exactly was being HIV positive previously though to be incompatible with the "worldwide availability" standard?

Was it because there were countries to which HIV positive individuals could not travel because that country had a ban on HIV positive visitors? (like, for example, the United States!)

Or was it because it was assumed that an HIV positive diplomat might drop dead at any moment or infect his colleagues simply be breathing the same air?

So, while this does seem to be a tiny step forwards, it also seems kind of ironic to me that the US still bans most HIV visitors ...

See what I just said to Gerry above.  I think it is a first step, not just in the implication that you suggest, but towards reality that has been held in a retarded stance by an administration fearful and hostile towards anything that it feels threatens its bottom line of good old boys...or at least the pockets of good old boys.

Offline jack

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  • Posts: 1,578
  • fomerly the loser known as Jake
Re: US Drops Ban on HIV-Positive Diplomats
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2008, 11:22:49 AM »
I am pretty sure this administration did not start the HIV bans. It is a miracle to change any government rules when dealing with bureaucracies like the state dept. especially since they have fought the Bush Admin on everything.  This move may have nothing to do with W, it might could have been done within the bureaucracy to piss W off.  Its not a rep or dem thing,its a bureaucracy thing.

 


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