Saturday, December 01, 2007

World AIDS Day, December 1, 2007

Today is a special day. Every December 1st we mark World AIDS Day, a time when we pause to celebrate the advances that have been made vis-a-vis the treatment of AIDS and the prevention of HIV transmission, simultaneously calling for a renewed commitment to continue to advocate for change, development, research, and parity of care for those living in countries where the newest drugs and treatments are still a pipe dream. Hundreds of organizations--- including (RED), World Vision, World AIDS Campaign, UNAIDS, Physicians for Human Rights, and others---use this day as a platform for advocacy and action. Please take the time to read (and act upon) the reports and suggestions below.

Please join me in calling for the Department of Homeland Security to abolish the federal ban on travel for HIV positive persons to the US. It is beyond the time to address the outrageous discriminatory practice. Since 1991 the United States has prohibited HIV positive travelers to enter or cross its borders without obtaining a special waiver, which is then stamped on the traveler's passport as a permanent record of his or her HIV status. On November 6, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed new regulations on the entry of people living with HIVinto the US. These regulations, purported to "ease" the present travel restriction are, in fact, more restrictive.

In addition to disclosing their status, HIV positive travelers must now also provide documentation that they are financially able to pay for any healthcare needed during their visit, travel with all their required medications, make a commitment to adhereto these medications, and prove that they will not engage in any high risk behavior while in the US.

These proposed new regulations remain a serious violation of the human rights of those living with HIV. Not only is this policy an international embarrassment, it perpetuates on-going stigma and misunderstanding of the disease. The HIV travel ban is thesole reason that no international AIDS conferences have been held on US soil for the last 16 years.

The deadline to include your comment with Physicians for Human Right's submissions to DHS is 5:00 pm on Wednesday, December 5. Please follow this link to submit your comment via PHR's website.

AIDS Isn't Over

  • Millions of Africans are infected with HIV each year.
  • More than 10 million African children have been orphaned by AIDS.
  • More than two million people died of AIDS-related complications this past year; 76% of those who died were in Africa
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, 3% of the world's health workers struggle to combat 24% of the global disease burden.
  • Health experts estimate sub-Saharan Africa needs 1 million more health workers.
For these reasons, we must support African health workers.
What Physicians for Human Rights is doing for World AIDS Day
  • Collecting signatures for a petition to members of Congress asking for their support of African health professionals. Sign the petition.
  • Sending a letter from leading health professionals to President Bush urging further US leadership in the fight against the AIDS pandemic. Read the letter.
  • Collecting video postcards to the members of the US Congress from health professionals and health professional students. Create your own video message or watch one of our favorites.
  • Featuring African colleagues in photo narratives. Meet Dr. Katumba and Ms. Byarugaba
  • Telling the story of health professional members and their recent trip to Kenya for the first Health Rights Conference in that country's history. Visit the blog.
  • Organizing members to comment on the proposed ban on HIV-positive travelers entering the United States. Read our statement or take action now.
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