On September 29th, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that effective immediately the Department would begin issuing short-term visas (up to 30 days) for people who are HIV positive. Under previous regulations, HIV positive people had to receive a special waiver determined by a case-by-case evaluation for entry into the USA. The new visas will not identify any traveler as HIV positive.

This is great news for microbicides advocates, considering Microbicides 2010 will take place in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania in the U.S.A. The Global Campaign for Microbicides has been lobbying hard to get the travel ban on HIV positive people repealed, and GCM Director, Lori Heise, was instrumental in focusing attention on the ban when negotiations were underway about where to host the next microbicides conference.

The US Department of Health and Human Services must still go through a formal rule making to remove HIV from the list of “communicable diseases of public health significance,” the designation that triggers the travel restrictions. But this short-term solution for HIV positive people is a welcome development.