On Wednesday, July 30, 2008, President Bush signed legislation significantly expanding funding for the international fight against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. The bill more than triples the funding—from the current $15 million under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to up to $48 million during the next five years. The program provides much-needed treatment for millions of people in Africa and around the world battling HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The bill, H.R. 5501, also includes important language repealing the 20-year ban that prevented many HIV-positive people from visiting or seeking residency in the United States.
“This is an important step toward changing an odious and useless law that only served to discriminate against people living with a chronic condition,” said Val Bias, NHF Chief Executive Officer.
NHF and the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH), along with other organizations and individuals in the community, urged members of the Senate to change the discriminatory policy. During the two decades that the ban was in place, WFH could not hold meetings in the U.S. In addition, many members of the international community could not attend NHF Annual Meetings and other conferences. As a result, many opportunities for consumers and healthcare providers to share information and resources were lost.
“International visitors should never have been singled out in this way,” said Mark Skinner, WFH President. “Patients and healthcare providers in the United States and around the globe will now have equal opportunity to collaborate and share knowledge, enriching the lives of patients everywhere.”
NHF will continue to closely monitor this legislation and keep the community informed of ongoing developments.