The “travel ban” has been a contentious piece of HIV and AIDS legislation for a long time. Added by Sentor Jesse Helms in 1987, this amendment puts a ban on immigration or travel to the US by HIV-infected individuals. But a month ago, a hopeful light at the end of this horribly discriminatory tunnel was seen.

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 the Microbicides 2010 conference will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the US. The Global Campaign for Microbicides (GCM) has been lobbying tirelessly to repeal the tavel ban on HIV positive people.

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