Tuesday, February 19, 2008

State Department Drops Ban On HIV-Postitive Diplomats

Over the weekend, thanks to pressure from a lawsuit, the State Department finally conceded that HIV shouldn't limit who can serve as a diplomat abroad. Oftentimes a candidate would complete extensive exams only to discover upon the completion of a medical exam he or she didn't qualify.

The State Department's chief medical officer had "revised its medical clearance guidelines on HIV based on advances in HIV care and treatment and consultations with medical experts," said Gonzalo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman.

This is a great step forward for the rights of those who are infected with HIV, but can live normal lives for years. It also has a lot to do with the stigma surrounding the virus. For years it was perceived as a "sinful disease." I remember in the late 1990s a documentary called "Hell House," about an evangelical Christian church in the south, portrayed one of the "sins" as a young man with AIDS. It's a relief that now at least official policy doesn't reinforce such terrible stereotypes.


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