The Corner

The AIDS Travel Ban

Andrew Sullivan today makes a case for removing the rigid statutory ban against the entry of HIV positive people into the United States (even as visitors), and treating the disease like other serious and communicable conditions. He is exactly right. The ban now on the books is not only unreasonable (given what we now know about how the disease is and is not spread) but utterly unenforceable, and creates a dangerous perverse incentive, encouraging people with HIV to go untreated and unreported—thus increasing, not lowering, the risk they will spread the disease. When I was in the White House, we made inquiries on the Hill (at the President’s personal request, if I’m not mistaken—though I don’t recall that with certainty) about removing the ban by statute, and found a mix of (mostly) disinterest and (a little) hostility on both sides of the aisle. There is now a bipartisan effort to attach a provision removing the ban to the PEPFAR reauthorization bill. I hope it succeeds.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.


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