The 2012 International AIDS Conference will kick off in Washington on Sunday, marking the first time since 1990 that the US is hosting the event, with the country’s earlier-imposed ban on HIV-positive travelers having been ended.
The conference – which will likely attract nearly 20,000 people – will open in the US for the first time in 22 years, thanks largely to the efforts of Oakland Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee who insisted that the country should lift the ban on travelers carrying the AIDS virus.
The controversial ban was imposed way back in 1987 when HIV was added to the Department of Health and Human Services’ list of communicable diseases which prevent a person from entering the US.
It was part of a landmark attempt to fight AIDS on a global scale that Lee’s bill was signed into legislation in 2008 by the then US President, George W. Bush. The law - the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief - became effective from January 4, 2010, under President Barack Obama.
With this year’s International AIDS conference being hosted by the US, it will include the participation of medical pioneers who confronted the terminal disease in the 1980s in San Francisco, its epicenter at that time.
San Franciscans who will be in attendance at the conference include Grant Colfax, head the Office of National AIDS Policy; and Eric Goosby, US Global AIDS coordinator, whose office in Washington came into existence by Lee's legislation.
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