Today is Day 5 of the International AIDS Conference held every other year in countries throughout the world. Oh, that's right, not ever in the U.S. because we have an idiotic law that states that if you have HIV you cannot gain entry to the United States, even if you are a tourist or business traveler.
We, along with Colombia, Eritrea, and Syria (A fine group of allies) are the only countries in the world to limit travelers with HIV from entering our borders. Over 150 countries have restrictions, ours and the countries above basically say, nope, not welcome here under any circumstances.
Is a woman with HIV coming to visit her family in this country going to increase our infection rates? No. Will keeping her out make ignorant Americans feel better about themselves? What do you think? See the UNAIDS Statement here.
In practice, no one is testing at our borders (hell, no one at our borders is doing much of anything useful). Plenty of HIV infected people travel in and out of this country every day for tourism, for business and for the White Party.
This may get more difficult as security gets tighter. Packing antiretrovirals (some of which come in gel capsules) in carry on luggage is going to be difficult, if not impossible. Sure, there are waivers but then you have to prove that the prescription is yours and if that prescription happens to be written to some damn Canadian or other foreign born soul...well, God help you.
Sure. You can pack them in your luggage and avoid the scrutiny all together. However, that means that when your luggage goes into airport purgatory and you are without your meds, that you MUST TAKE EVERY 12 HOURS, you're fucked.
Anyway, back to the conference. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa, a man who seems, by all counts to know what the hell he's talking about, responded to our country's emphasis on ABC. Did you not know your ABCs?
Abstinence, Be Faithful, Use Condoms.
With a distinct emphasis on the A.
According to the Washington Post, "By law, at least one-third of HIV prevention funds countries receive through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- a $15 billion, five-year program -- must be used for abstinence-until-marriage and faithfulness programs"
Our U.S. AIDS Czar says that is untrue. He says that only 7% is going to abstinence programs. Hmmm. There seems to be an apples/oranges thing going on here. Or maybe a bowling balls/teapots.
So back to Stephen Lewis (thank you for saying the truth). This is his quote responding to our policies on stipulations for using U.S. aid.
"No government in the Western world has the right to dictate policy to African governments around the way in which they respond to the pandemic. That kind of insipient neocolonialism is unacceptable. ... We're saying to Africa: 'This is how you will respond to the pandemic,' and that's not appropriate because African governments are eminently capable of deciding what their priorities are and what the response should be."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Word.