A Conservative Member of the European Parliament and medical doctor, Charles Tannock has compared the United States' treatment of visitors from overseas with
HIV and AIDS to that of repressive nations like Saudi Arabia.
At the moment, in restrictions that are twenty years old, the USA prevents all people with HIV from entering its territory under the visa waiver programme that benefits most Britons.
A new proposal from the US Department for Homeland Security suggests that HIV+ visitors will be able to stay for thirty days but they would "waive both their right to appeal and their right to change their immigration status once in the US - for example to seek work, study or be reunited permanently with family members".
Writing on his website, Dr Tannock complains:
"If the new proposal becomes law it could mean that people who are HIV-positive are denied the chance to be reunited with family members and partners, or to work or study in America. The measures amount to an entrenchment of discrimination, in particular because they will disproportionately affect thousands of gay and bisexual people. I've raised this issue in a written parliamentary question to the EU Commission and Council because collectively they are likely to have considerable clout with the US authorities on this particular issue. The US is one of the only countries to place travel restrictions on people living with HIV and AIDS. America's policy places it alongside countries such as Saudi Arabia. It's unworthy of a country like America, with which we share common values of liberty and equality."
This does seem to be an outdated restriction that stems from a time when understanding of the nature of HIV/ AIDS was in its infancy. The USA under George W Bush has done much to tackle AIDS abroad. It is regrettable that it has not moved further against this restriction.