Obama is lifting the US ban on visitors and immigrants with HIV.

President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. will overturn a 22-year-old travel and immigration ban against people with HIV early next year. The order will be finalized on Monday, Obama said, completing a process begun during the Bush administration.

Which diseases should be a basis to bar entry to America, either as a visitor or an immigrant? The major ailments on the current list are HIV, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, syphilis, and leprosy. The recent movement has been to remove HIV from the list, on the logic that it’s treatable (although not curable) and not easily transmitted.

On the other hand, there’s certainly a real cost to taxpayers and a real risk to citizens.

Immigration critics say they’re leery of the proposal that could allow an average of 4,275 HIV-infected people into the country annually, with a lifetime medical cost of about $94 million for those admitted during the first year, according to CDC estimates published this month in the Federal Register.

“It becomes a matter of collective responsibility because of the cost,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C. “The American people shouldn’t be in a position where they have to pay for it.”

Others are concerned that HIV-positive visitors and immigrants will spread the disease.

Is it inhuman of me to say that America shouldn’t welcome immigrants who have costly health issues unless they have the means to personally pay for their treatment? This concern has traditionally been one of the principles of our immigration laws, so it’s not as if HIV is being singled out.

With respect to the spread of disease…In theory, we should be able to stop HIV dead in its tracks by simply being careful. The sad reality is it keeps on spreading.

the annual rate of AIDS diagnoses for boys aged 15 to 19 years has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

What are we supposed to do about that?

The numbers show that U.S. youth need better sex education, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The mantra is that “better education” will solve all our ills. That’s another soothing statement that doesn’t mesh with reality. Is there anyone out there that doesn’t know how you get HIV? How much “education” do you need?

It’s all well and good to say that, in theory, HIV carriers do not constitute a risk to the population at large. However the numbers tell us that simply isn’t true.

I’m conflicted on how to weigh in on this particular issue. Steering clear of AIDS is largely a matter of personal responsibility. But advocates of lifting the restriction must acknowledge the reality that more carriers result in more infections. It’s fair to question the extent to which public policy should be guided by awareness that people are not responsible and will make poor choices. I usually weigh in on the side of the individual choice. But to the extent that private mistakes become a public burden, I’m entitled to voice my concerns.

A friend of mine is a nurse. I have to regard this an anecdotal, but she told me that the politicization of HIV added a frightening burden to a nurse’s job. When you service patients, you want to know what diseases they’re carrying, so you can be appropriately cautious. My friend told me she wasn’t allowed to know who had HIV, and the doctors were prevented by law from ordering an HIV test without a patient’s consent (although a doctor could order just about any other test). You may wonder why this should be of concern, since HIV isn’t spread unless body fluids are exchanged. But a nurse is constantly dealing with needles, so getting stuck with a needle is a periodic occupational hazard. Therefore, you want to know whether an accidental needle stab is potentially life-threatening. My friend said that when nurses raised the question, they were just told to “always be careful”. This is the sort of rule made by ignoramuses. My friend noted that nowadays, needle accidents left a nurse sick with fear that he or she was a goner.

It’s good politics but bad medicine. My friend got out of that line of nursing. Now there’s one less nurse.

I’m not sure what our national policy should be. But I do know we’ll never get it right when we’re guided by political rather than medical considerations.

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10 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. jmucciola says:

    I say, “Yes, go for it!” But ONLY if each and every HIV-infected immigrant passes through the White House FIRST and has a meet-and-greet with Obama and his entire family. Walk it like you talk it Barry or STFU!

  2. strandedcanuck says:

    We went through this 10 years ago in Canada…… We now have medical refugees! Uggggg disaster! Isn’t this the same as inviting cancer into your body? It’s not a lack of compassion I fear but rather a lack of common sense.

  3. MRFIXIT says:

    This is great. With National health care, we can bring in lots of people with a $15,000 per year cost of treatment. But of course we will tax french fries out of existence to offset the extra strain on the system. We should also put HIV on the list of valid reasons to request assylum. That way we can just move most of Somalia right here. Isn’t suicidal Marxist-socialism fun? Think “BIG TENT”. They’ll be ready to vote in no time.

  4. Mary Val says:

    The regs limiting those with communicable diseases from entering the US are already widely circumvented. I have personally seen recent non-English speaking immigrants with Hanson’s disease (leprosy) in a medical practice I worked for some years ago. Immigrants with TB are common. There are immigrant patients going through the medical facility I presently work for with any number of chronic diseases and health conditions, being treated on the taxpayers dime.

    • CO2aintpoison says:

      Regulations over immigration in ANY event is a joke. Doesn’t matter if they’ve got leprosy, HIV, late stage, well, anything (communicable or otherwise cuz in either case it costs US). Doesn’t matter if they’re truly under duress from their own g’vmt; doesn’t matter if they do or don’t have family here; doesn’t matter if they are drug dealers; doesn’t matter if they are into human traffic; doesn’t matter if they’re into underage sex trade (a la ACORN); doesn’t matter if they’re TERRORISTS for the love of pete – anybody can, and does, walk across our boarder(s) and demand payment on delivery. Disgusting. Regulations HA. We also have a Constitution that nobody on “the Hill” gives a damn about either.

  5. varmint says:

    I think the most fair, humane and most prudent security stance, is to totally exclude all immigration to the U.S. by anyone with a communicable disease of any sort, regardless of their financial resources, until they become disease free. This is not the worlds charity ward. Inviting a new flood of infectious people bearing a nearly 100 million dollar price tag on each, arguably endangering unwary victims, (remember the Rock Hudson thing?) is beyond stupid, it’s crazy.

  6. CO2aintpoison says:

    Just one last comment on this immigration “thang”. As a second job for a time, I transcribed cassette tapes from immigration hearings. Man oh man….this is THE CURE for any lib – guaranteed. I did it for several years (you know how us crummy, selfish consesrvatives are – hoarding all of our money and well, paying bills so as we don’t have to rely on others – ahh, what’err). There were hundreds of cases I transcribed over time. I cannot recall ONE STORY which bore itself out under scrutiny of the judge or cross-examination. It was disgusting.

    These people would be here from several months to 25, 30 YEARS. That’s YEARS my friend (and I do not believe they took advantage of free birth-control if you get my meaning). For some, their “only” felony was they were here illegally. Many had other, well, issues. Many not paying taxes (a la Geitner, Wrangle, et cetera) until they’d been “caught”. I always thought that was weird because we’re constantly being told the gov’t can’t ’round up the illegals cuz they’re in the shadows ‘n stuff.

    The trial would enevitably end with a follow up hearing, or some other postponement wherein the defendant inevitably would not show up for their court date (who would?). In many cases the judge ordered them deported. Always the question asked by the judge: can you pay for your own transportation out of the country? (How many of you think the answer was “yes”?).

    Several months later, I’d pick up a new batch of tapes to transcribe and there’d be the same defendent and I’d be like: “hey, they deported that guy because his story of oppression was, er, bogus”. I doubt any of those people ever left. The only thing leaving is MONEY OUT OF MY EARNINGS (and yours as well) to cover these ingrates.

    Man oh man…one of my hot buttons for sure. Look, if they want to come in the right way and pay their taxes and contribute to society and not be a drain on society – have at it. Otherwise GTFOOMC (er, Get Out Of My Country – you can fill in the rest).

  7. VinceP1974 says:

    I’m gay and based on my experience and observation…

    People engaging in high-risk yet completely avoidable behavior that could result in disease spreading are not going to be “stopped” by education.

    They either have the internal will to actively want to protect themselves and others from disease .. or they do not.

    Since the advent of the Protease Inhibitors in 1995, HIV infection changed from short-term death sentence to something that will let you live longer.. and so the life-and-death-must-always-be-careful incentive was gone and human nature takes over.

    Our Govt allowing HIV immigration is just another occurrence of the total failure of this Govt to do their job , which is to protect the people of the United States.

  8. trevy says:

    Chistopher Columbus brought small pox to North America and wiped out the Indians. That was terrible.

    Now, immigrants are bringing AIDS to North America and wiping us out. That’s compassionate.

    We’re living in the Twilight Zone.

  9. rcbeng says:

    NO, I thought we had such a bad healthcare system. Besides, I do not want to pay for anymore illegal alian anything

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