Ted Kennedy Leads Fight Against Homeland Security

Gay Activists, Lawmakers Take On HIV Restrictions

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The United States government announced earlier this month that it would be to lift restrictions on HIV positive travelers. While that would appear to be good news, Washington insiders balk that the move actually hinders people’s movements.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said Tuesday that the proposal “offers little of value to HIV-positive applicants.”

“It imposes strict requirements that unfairly limit travel to the United States,” Kennedy said after chairing a Senate health committee hearing on the Bush administration’s international AIDS efforts. “It is mired in the past, a past where people feared HIV as a contagious disease that could not be controlled or effectively managed.”

The rule proposed by the Department of Homeland Security would allow short-term visas to be granted to HIV-positive people by U.S. consulates in their home countries, cutting out the involvement of DHS headquarters and thus speeding up the process. However, applicants would have to agree to certain conditions, including giving up the right to apply for a longer stay or permanent residency in the U.S.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, more than two dozen Democratic House members objected that the changes don’t lessen the burden on HIV-positive people, instead shifting authority to “local consular officers who may lack the appropriate medical expertise.”

Homeland Security says they’ll “review” the rants.