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Following HIV Ban Repeal, Washington Will Host International AIDS Conference

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Monday that, following repeal of the HIV Travel and Immigration Ban, the United States will once again host the International Conference on AIDS.

The biennial conference – considered one of the most important scientific gatherings in the world – will convene in Washington in 2012, Secretary Clinton told reporters this week. The U.S. has not hosted an AIDS Conference since 1989, when a Dutch researcher was detained by immigration officials because of the travel ban.

“We have to stand against any efforts to marginalize and criminalize and penalize members of the LGBT community worldwide. It is an unacceptable step backwards on behalf of human rights, but it is also a step that undermines the effectiveness of efforts to fight the disease worldwide,” she said.

“Hosting the International AIDS Conference in the United States is an important opportunity for the United States,” Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, said Monday in a post at the White House blog.

“Welcoming conference attendees to our nation’s capital will allow America to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to ending the HIV pandemic both in the United States and around the world. Given that the conference is fundamentally a research conference, holding this event in such close proximity to the National Institutes of Health and other U.S. Government research facilities will also, hopefully, expand the level of scientific disclosure between our scientists and researchers from around the world,” he added.

Immigration Equality applauded the announcement, telling reporters that, “The United States has paid a heavy price, in terms of its reputation in the scientific community, because of its antiquated policies on HIV-positive immigrants and visitors.”

Secretary Clinton’s “remarks . . . show how quickly the end of a prejudicial policy can bring about progress, and how swiftly our country can right immigration wrongs,” we noted.