The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a final rule issued Monday that it is amending its regulation to remove "human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection" from the list of diseases barring immigrants from entering the U.S., effective Jan. 1, 2010.
Prior to this final rule, individuals with HIV infections seeking to immigrate to or reside in the U.S. were considered to have a communicable disease of "public health significance" and thus were inadmissible to the country per the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.
While HIV infection is a serious health condition, it is no longer considered a communicable disease that poses "a significant public health risk for introduction, transmission, and spread" to the American population through casual contact, according to the CDC.
As a result of this final rule, individuals also will not be required to undergo HIV testing as part of the required medical examination that is part of the American immigration process.
While the U.S. has been a leader worldwide when it comes to ending the stigma of HIV/AIDS, it was only one of 12 countries that still "supported the myth that HIV/AIDS is a threat," said Health and Human Secretary Katharine Sebelius, in a statement.
"It's appropriate that the nation is taking the final step to lift the entry ban as President Obama signed [this past Friday] the fourth reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act," Sebelius said. Ryan White, who was 13 years old when he contracted HIV/AIDS, fought against the stigma of HIV/AIDS while he was living.
The ability "to travel freely and have access to affordable healthcare" should be available to everyone, she said.
"This change has been a long-time coming, and I am pleased it is happening now," Sebelius said.