President Barack Obama the U.S. will overturn a 22-year-old travel and immigration ban against people with HIV. The order will be finalized on Monday, January 4, 2010, Obama said, completing a process begun during the Bush administration. The U.S. has been among a dozen countries that bar entry to travelers with visas or anyone seeking a green card based on their HIV status.
"If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it," Obama said at the White House before signing a bill to extend the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program. Begun in 1990, the program provides medical care, medication and support services to about half a million people, most of them low-income.
Obama said that by lifting the ban, the U.S. will take a step toward ending the stigma against people with HIV/AIDS, something he said has stopped people from getting tested and has helped spread the disease. More than 1 million people live with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., and more than 56,000 new infections are reported every year. Obama noted his own effort several years ago to help combat the stigma. During a 2006 visit to Kenya, his father's native country, then-Sen. Obama and his wife, Michelle, publicly took an HIV/AIDS test.
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