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Author Topic: Andrew Sullivan: Phobia at the Gates  (Read 7104 times)

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Offline Miss Philicia

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Andrew Sullivan: Phobia at the Gates
« on: May 14, 2008, 10:37:36 PM »
disclaimer:  normally Sully bugs me but...

from tomorrow's Op-ed section of the Washington Post

Phobia at the Gates
By Andrew Sullivan
Wednesday, May 14, 2008; A19

Twelve countries ban HIV-positive visitors, nonimmigrants and immigrants from their territory: Armenia, Brunei, Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sudan and . . . the United States. China recently acted to remove its ban on HIV-positive visitors because it feared embarrassment ahead of the Olympics. But America's ban remains.

It seems unthinkable that the country that has been the most generous in helping people with HIV should legally ban all non-Americans who are HIV-positive. But it's true: The leading center of public and private HIV research discriminates against those with HIV.

HIV is the only medical condition permanently designated in law -- in the Immigration and Nationality Act -- as grounds for inadmissibility to the United States. Even leprosy and tuberculosis are left to the discretion of the secretary of health and human services.

The ban can be traced to the panic that dominated discussion of the human immunodeficiency virus two decades ago. The ban was the brainchild of Sen. Jesse Helms (who came to regret his initial hostility toward people with HIV and AIDS). President George H.W. Bush sought to drop the ban, but in 1993, after a scare about Haitian refugees, Congress wrote it into law.

I remember that year particularly because it was when I, a legal immigrant, became infected. With great lawyers, a rare O visa (granted to individuals in the arts and sciences), a government-granted HIV waiver and thousands of dollars in legal fees, I have managed to stay in the United States. Nonetheless, because I am HIV-positive, I am not eligible to become a permanent resident. Each year I have to leave the country and reapply for an HIV waiver to reenter. I have lived in the United States for almost a quarter-century, have paid taxes, gotten married and built a life here -- but because of HIV, I am always vulnerable to being forced to leave for good. After a while, the stress of such insecurity gnaws away at your family and health.

I am among the most privileged non-Americans with HIV. Others live in fear of being exposed; many have to hide their medications when entering the country for fear of being discovered by customs or immigration. Couples have been split up and torn apart. International conferences on HIV and AIDS have long avoided meeting in the United States because of the ban, which violates U.N. standards for member states.

This law has lasted so long because no domestic constituency lobbies for its repeal. Immigrants or visitors with HIV are often too afraid to speak up. The ban itself is also largely unenforceable -- it's impossible to take blood from all those coming to America, hold them until the results come through and then deport those who test positive. Enforcement occurs primarily when immigrants volunteer their HIV status -- as I have -- or apply for permanent residence. The result is not any actual prevention of HIV coming into the United States but discrimination against otherwise legal immigrants who are HIV-positive.

Would treating HIV like any other medical condition cost the United States if such visitors or immigrants at some point became public dependents? It's possible -- but all legal immigrants and their sponsors are required to prove that they can provide their own health insurance for at least 10 years after being admitted. Making private health insurance a condition of visiting or immigrating with HIV prevents any serious government costs, and the tax dollars that would be contributed by many of the otherwise qualified immigrants would be a net gain for the government -- by some estimates, in the tens of millions of dollars.

In the end, though, removing the ban is not about money. It's a statement that the United States does not discriminate against people with HIV and does not retain the phobias of the past. That's why repeal has been supported by a bipartisan group of senators, including Republicans Gordon Smith and Richard Lugar and Democrats John Kerry and Barack Obama, in an amendment to the reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. They know that immigration and public health policy should not rest on stigma or fear. For the Bush administration, removing the Helms ban would be a final, fitting part of its admirable HIV and AIDS legacy.

It's also worth remembering that we are talking about legal immigrants and visitors, people who go through the process and seek to participate and contribute to this country. Making HIV the only medical condition that legally prevents someone from immigrating or even visiting is a signal to people with HIV that they have something to be ashamed of. That stigma is one of the greatest obstacles to tackling HIV across the world. The United States has done much to reduce this stigma; it makes no sense to perpetuate it in its own immigration policy.

People with HIV are no less worthy of being citizens of the United States than anyone else. All we ask is to be able to visit, live and work in America and, for some of us, to realize our dream of becoming Americans -- whether we are HIV-positive or not.

Andrew Sullivan is a senior editor at the Atlantic magazine and former editor of The New Republic.

"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline bear60

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Re: Andrew Sullivan: Phobia at the Gates
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2008, 10:21:47 AM »
Moldova is so screwed up that a gay pride parade is disrupted and police HELP the gay bashers:
Moldova police helping gay bashers attack minorities
Poz Bear Type in Philadelphia

Offline komnaes

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Re: Andrew Sullivan: Phobia at the Gates
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2008, 10:47:42 AM »
He's rarely this straight forward and right.. but then it's something close to his heart.


(who is secretly a regular reader of Sullivan's Daily Dish)
Aug 07 Diagnosed
Oct 07 CD4=446(19%) Feb 08 CD4=421(19%)
Jun 08 CD4=325(22%) Jul 08 CD4=301(18%)
Sep 08 CD4=257/VL=75,000 Oct 08 CD4=347(16%)
Dec 08 CD4=270(16%)
Jan 09 CD4=246(13%)/VL=10,000
Feb 09 CD4=233(15%)/VL=13,000
Started meds Sustiva/Epzicom
May 09 CD4=333(24%)/VL=650
Aug 09 CD4=346(24%)/VL=UD
Nov 09 CD4=437(26%)/VL=UD
Feb 10 CD4=471(31%)/VL=UD
June 10 CD4=517 (28%)/VL=UD
Sept 10 CD4=687 (31%)/VL=UD
Jan 11 CD4=557 (30%)/VL=UD
April 11 CD4=569 (32%)/VL=UD
Switched to Epizcom, Reyataz and Norvir
(Interrupted for 2 months with only Epizcom & Reyataz)
July 11 CD=520 (28%)/VL=UD
Oct 11 CD=771 (31%)/VL=UD(<30)
April 12 CD=609 (28%)/VL=UD(<20)
Aug 12 CD=657 (29%)/VL=UD(<20)
Dec 12 CD=532 (31%)/VL=UD(<20)
May 13 CD=567 (31%)/VL=UD(<20)
Jan 14 CD=521 (21%)/VL=UD(<50)

Offline Miss Philicia

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  • celebrity poster, faker & poser
Re: Andrew Sullivan: Phobia at the Gates
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2008, 11:02:21 AM »
I'll never forget Sully's pearl clutching Clarence Thomas routine 7 years ago when he was caught with his pants down publicly in AOL chat rooms and exposed by Michelangelo Signorile

"This seemed to me to be a text-book case, updated for the Internet age: the high-tech lynching of an uppity homo,"
"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline MarkB

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Re: Andrew Sullivan: Phobia at the Gates
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2008, 07:44:02 AM »
Sullivan aside, I knew my options in life had been changed permanently when I discovered that my HIV status meant that a long-planned visit to the USA had to be cancelled. I was informed that if I even attempted to enter the country under false pretences (= without disclosure) I would be arrested and deported on the next available plane.


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